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Middle East Mess

Before the financial markets hit the wall, Middle East investment and development companies were scouring the US for real estate talent, from on-the-ground development pros, to proven marketing and sales professionals. Recruiting activity reached a peak in late 2007, and the first quarter of 2008. I–like most in the know–expected that the Mideast would comfortably navigate through the economic “rough patch.” However, the news last week set the record straight: the Middle East markets are a disaster. Dubai World, the holding company that made big real estate bets, has fallen on hard times, and is at the center of the mess in the emirate. The good news for Dubai is that its extended family of sheiks have billions to bail them out. All that being said, the real estate projects that Dubai World took on in the Middle East, Las Vegas, New York City, etc., are now dead in the water. Meanwhile, back in Dubai, real estate talent from the US, Europe and Australia are packing up and leaving the desert for greener pastures. Who would have known that the US would end up looking good, compared to Dubai!

Tony LoPinto is CEO of Equinox Partners, an executive search firm specializing in the real estate industry, and parent company of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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