Decision Making



The Implications of the Decision Making Epistemic Framework on Governance and Sustainability of Real Estate and Urbanity in the 21st Century’s Emerging Megalopolises

MPhil/PhD Synopsis

Case Study: Dubai 1990-2010



Dubai 1990-2010 was a wonderful example on how urbanity would unexpectedly shape up, and how it would also draw its own imbalances and uncertainty. A Megapolis usually takes many decades to grow, transform and then-regenerate; but Dubai had it all within a couple of decades. Across the region from Kazakhstan to Senegal, formal and informal expeditions and forums were set to investigate, understand and imitate the vibrant Dubai. Once a top Sudanese official had proposed to list and call the Sudanese professionals working in Dubai, to rescue the troubled economy and reshape the country. New and regenerated districts of Astana, Grozny, Gujarat, Doha, Addis Ababa, Abuja and Accra were very much inspired by the “Pretty Picture” of Dubai. Nevertheless, Dubai’s Gov-backed Banking Facilities had encouraged Real Estate and Infrastructure Developments; to house the economic engines and affiliates.  Dubai 1990-2010 was inevitably an enigma among many public and private executives worldwide.


The tiny remote border post of strong Bedouin Principality at Al Ain (which later became an independent principality known as Dubai) had a notable maritime history. Dubai 1790th had evolved as active “Pirate Harbor” in the Persian Gulf. Arab Bedouin were not seamen, therefore, early Indians, Baloushi and Persian settlers had exchanged their maritime knowhow for citizenship.  The tiny port had developed into a populous town, into a Megapolis within 200 years. The two major Sunni Iranian exoduses had brought further demographic and economic strengths to Dubai; enabling the Persian urbanity to expand. On parallel, smuggling “Gold” to India, trading natural “Pearls” and developing the “Re-export” trade were the economic referrals of the Modern Principality. Oil-rich Dubai of 1960th had strong urban facelift initiatives by a daring smart “Boss”. Eventually, Dubai 2000 was a magnificent story that surprisingly shocked the world, and changed the prospectuses of “Doing Business”.



Urbanity of Dubai had been triggered by its maritime business and trade; with shallow depth beyond shelters and storage. Waterfronts were mostly docks; in front of storage and trading facilities. The residential districts had throughout downtown and outskirts. Geographical attributes had drawn tropical patterns and morphologies. Conservative Islam had strongly characterized architecture and ancillaries; while the construction was costly, due to imported materials and craftsmanship. The modern urban journey of Dubai had commenced with John Harris’s Master Plans of 1959 and 1971, Doxiadis’s of 1988, and the “Many Cities within a City” of 2004; is full of interesting profiles. For a long time ahead; “Dubai Syndrome” will inspire, duplicate, or confuse the competing cities as well. Dubai urban parameters of time, place and people were (and still) unique socioeconomic scenes, and paradoxically; a brand for sociopolitical overwhelming and exhaustion as well.



During the 1991 Gulf War, few thousands of Kuwaitis had sought refuge at the UAE. Kuwait Investment Fund had sponsored their temporary asylum. Since then, Dubai had spearheaded modernizing its urban facilities on parallel to a political strategy to be the safe haven of the Gulf. This was an extension to its historical legacy of open trade and ethical opportunism; enforced by its characteristic concepts of tenure and enterprise. The autocratic government had patriarchic role for the small active population, yet accountability was mere tribal. Despite how the early tribesmen had award chosen men (and their families) to rule, the sociopolitical manifest had defined critical role to manage and develop municipal and civic activities. The flow of professional expats since late 1960th had inevitably changed the code of public conduction to be competitive and proactive. Despite the rigid monarch system; the civic operations had marvelously enjoyed culture of openness and customer focus.



Dubai 1990 was a story that had been launched by Engineers, taken over by Finance Managers in 2004, and later monopolized by Entrepreneurial Managers towards its 2009 downturn. Dubai’s Real Estate and Construction sector had contributed a staggering 38% to its GDP, almost doubling the global average of 17-22%. Therefore; the Decision Makers were always ambitious and enthusiastic to launch new schemes; and enforce continuous transformation of spatial policies and strategies. Yet, the risk exposure had sharply elevated in absence or shortage of adequate tools to mange. The immediate negative impact of the 2009 downturn was the exodus of tens of thousands of expat professionals to neighboring GCC countries, Far East and Oceania. The relatively new knowledge based economy is critically sourced by dynamics and placement of the global expat phenomenon. Despite the odds; Dubai had significantly contributed in developing both knowledge management and economy.



Generally, the “Decision Makers” of Dubai are product of its distinct business culture; therefore, commentators were inevitably confused with its unprecedented chronicles. The ruling policies of the vivid principality are not typically public, yet officials were implicitly entrusted to retain both Public Relations and Investments. Notably; the absence of formal social strategies had relieved the “City Executives” from the paradoxical burdens, and focus on promoting the city as a distention for shopping, entertainment and travel. RERA, the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority had been established in late 2006; following advices from UK and Australian experts to control the booming sector. When the “Bubble” pasted in 2009, RERA had almost no executive tools to manage, intervene or mitigate. Its concerns were on the territories between RERA and TABO (the Dubai Land Bank), negotiating of laws and incentives with federal institutions, and road-mapping its “Problematic” RE Governance.



Urban Leadership is the most intellectual process; not only due to the multiple IPTO facts (Inputs, Processing, Tools & Outputs); but also to the precautions of the lengthy RE Investment Cycle. Despite how different times require different tones; the acknowledgement of wrongdoing is not only moral obligation, but epistemic. Generally, the “Patriarchic Culture” of the Middle East does not appreciate public admissions of pitfalls or denouncement of top executives, who were trustworthily commissioned for planning and management. Although the key roles of “Knowledge Management” are to define, retain and recover processes and decisions, the implementation of “Lessons Learned” is often confronted by correlated censors to the overall political establishment. Therefore, technical, administrative and political collaboration is the only framework to structure sustainable and solid ground for both healthy urban recovery and molding the forthcoming urban executives and managers.



Analyzing the “Urban Management” of Dubai 1990-2010 would develop a good reference for urban visionaries, strategists and managers on developing the “Emerging Urban Centers” within the wide restless spectrum of challenges of 21st century. The underdeveloped world in general; and the emerging economies in particular are concerned with the alignments of supply, the balancing of resources and the modeling of governance. These are typically confined with tight incentives of time and budgets; which “Dubai Model” became synonymous for. Despite the shallow maturity of Dubai’s organizational history, structures and behaviors, the echoes of this model had bang among some old urban centers; i.e., Cairo, Manchester, Moscow and Istanbul. Nevertheless, such initiatives had inevitably adapted local experiences and been adopted by local governances. Therefore, comparative analysis would reveal useful perspectives of best practices and road-mapping.



The research will address the urbanity frameworks including case identification, technical analysis, optimizations and bureaucratic processing. The aim is to explore how the urban development of Dubai would be solidly sustainable or covertly fractured. In order to draw guidelines and principles for the intellectual management of urbanity; the proposed conclusion will produce a combined framework for the adequacy of urban envisions, the governance of urban processing and the dynamics of urban logistics. Utilizing the multidisciplinary territories among Urbanity, Management and Geographies; the overall theme will focus on the intangible derivatives within the “Urban Decision Making” landscape, processes and tools. Certainly, the small demographics, the richness of the government and the strong political establishment create exceptional model to repeat. However, the academic autopsy would enable defining standard landscape and practical solutions for the new urban challenges.



Researcher’s personal engagements during the chronicles, the events and the processing of the case study will comprise important part of resources and information; which will be refined by research methodologies and modeling. It is planned to intensively use the professional questionnaires, forensic fragmentations and experts’ testimonies to substitute the shortage of general and academic literature about Dubai. Published information in global and local media will be a good source, subject to the careful content analysis and audit. Inevitably, there will be a need to address some epistemic and cultural issues; which are the backbones and the unspoken intellectual mosaic of the case study. Such sub domains will be determined and produced as per the progress of the research. The Arabic linguistic skills of the researcher and the familiarity of local social spectrums will enable proper penetration to the undocumented and non-recorded issues.



This synopsis is intended for a combine MPhil/PhD research, which is reasonably expected to experience lots of scope refinement, subjective changes and epistemic developments to meet the target conclusion. The challenges of academic resources would dramatically intensify the comprehension of research tools, analysis and audit. The overall research plan will initially be divided into three phases: Epistemic methodology and technical referrals; Information cultivation and management, and Comparative and refined analysis. The insightfulness of the academic supervisors and tutors will enable the exchange of territorial knowledge zones among the various contributing streams. The probability to develop a model for the “Urban Management Cycle” will evolve during the course of the research. Few academic trips are expected to be required for data collection, experts’ engagements and model examinations. Active participation in local and regional forums, media subscriptions and professional networks will constitute the principle data fields and resources.