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Dubai Books

Sand to Silicon: Achieving Rapid Growth Lessons from Dubai

Product Description
Over just three generations and within the past half century the tiny emirate of Dubai – which unlike many states in the region has not had the benefit of huge oil resources – has raised its profile globally through a range of bold developments and clever ideas. These include its free zones for business that have made it a regional centre for many firms, its biennial air show, the Dubai World Cup horse race, its development as a tourist centre that is home to some of the most stunning hotels in the world, the building of the Palm island and the planned construction of the world’s tallest building.

In Sand to Silicon Sampler and Saeb Eigner outline a model for how this large-scale rapid growth has been achieved and they pinpoint the reasons for Dubai’s success:

  • Leadership that is visionary, inspirational and embraces risks, that is demanding but supportive, and that builds confidence.
  • A leanness of organizational structure and bureaucracy, which helps to speed things up.
  • Openness to outside influence and competition, and to the views of all stakeholders.
  • Good communication channels and access to decisionmakers.
  • A business culture founded on trust – but not without regulation where it is necessary to reinforce trust and confidence in the system.

As Sampler and Eigner say in their concluding chapter, these are all things that any organization will benefit from.

Sand to Silicon: Achieving Rapid Growth Lessons from Dubai


  1. This book starts out very well, but after finishing the first half you realize one thing. This book could be half the size or less and still give you the same amou of information. The authors hash and re-hash the same point 5 times. While this can be very useful, when nothing is added the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th times it begins to wear on the reader. I was actually able to guess what was coming up in some paragraphs and to me, this is a bad thing. Like I said, read the first half and don’t bother with the rest.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  2. The authors describe the historical developments of Dubai in a concise and fairly complete form. They clearly describe the success stories, and the pivotal people who shouldered it. However, the subtitle of the book, paired with the authors’ background suggest that a true analysis will be given of what the fundamental parameters are in driving the success story. Also, they promise to make a link with Silicon Valley and Singapore. This fundamental layer of knowlege is in my opinion missing from the book, and thus it does not meet its promises. Nevertheless, what is there, makes it easy and interesting to read, and is a welcome addition to the library of the Middle East business traveler.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  3. When abbreviated, this book would make a fine article for any management magazine. According to this read, it basically comes down to active, visionary leadership, mutual trust and strategic asset management. I bought this one for I’m very interested in the thrilling development of Dubai, but as a book, it only met my expectations partly because of the narrow scope. It’s quite focussed on the economical and management side of the story, while especially the social and cultural side is underexposed. By introducing regional development models which are hardly being used to gain an insight, it feels more like reading a bold final management school thesis. It would have been nice if the authors would emphasis the fact that except for taxation of beer, there are no taxes in the Emirate, which makes it a corporation heaven even if you’d mismanage it, that Indian and Pakistani labour comes very cheap, the fair but undemocratic nature of the Emirates (no red tape!) and that Dubai has many Saudi Arabian investors who know that a less strict religious environment is good for business. One deserves a more in depth analysis based on the price of the book. Dubai does too, for it really is an amazing city.
    Rating: 3 / 5


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