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Finance: Dubai’s fast start fuels hope for 2021

If you want to see what a strong economic and financial recovery might look like in 2021, you’ll find it in Dubai.

Elliot Wilson Middle East 1920px.jpg

It is the second week of January and Café Bateel, located in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, is quietly buzzing.

Dressed-down bankers and investors, favouring a Miami Vice look heavy on pastel-coloured suit jackets and Jack Wills T-shirts, recline in wicker chairs, enjoying a coffee and occasional cigarette.

It is hot and sunny – the midday mercury hovers around 25°C – and while Europe navigates a second lockdown, Asia a bumpy return to growth and the US a (hopefully peaceful) transition of presidential power, the Middle East’s main financial hub is most definitely open for business.


“Yesterday, I had three meetings with clients who are not Dubai-based,” says a regional head of investment banking over a morning coffee at Bateel. Two flew in from London, the other from Lagos.

There were other meetings, he adds: internal ones with colleagues who jetted in from various parts of Europe to soak up some winter rays.

Normality is a way off yet. On a scale of one to 10, the buzz in Bateel is about a six. Half the tables are empty, rising to two-thirds in the adjoining branches of Caffè Nero and Costa Coffee.


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