Dubai and Lagos-A Story of Contrasts


I have had the opportunity of spending some time in the last three months in Dubai and lagos. It is a fascinating contrast. Dubai and Lagos are stories of two divergent ways in the world and how good governance makes a difference. Lagos is the capital of Nigeria and Dubai a principal emirate of UAE.

Both are rich in oil but Nigeria more so. It has the world’s fourth largest oil reserves. But Nigeria quite surprisingly imports oil also.

Both are on the sea. Dubai has a very pleasant climate for four months in a year but for six months it is unbearably hot affecting life and work. Lagos temperatures fluctuate between a pleasant 18 to 35 degrees centigrade through out the year.

The common language of Nigeria is English and everybody speaks it. Some local citizens of Dubai are passably conversant with the language but many do not understand it.

UAE is principally a Muslim country but Nigeria has Muslims and Christians co-existing in relative harmony. In Nigeria, each religion has its own space and freedom.

Nigeria is located closer to the important markets of Europe and USA and has close cultural relations with Europe especially UK.Dubai’s cultural relationship in the true sense is with other gulf countries.

The people in Nigeria are open and friendly whereas in UAE they are more closed.

The land in Nigeria is fertile and there is rain throughout the year. Dubai is on a desert.

With so many natural advantages, one would think that Nigeria would be far more advanced than Dubai. But strange are the ways of the world.

Dubai has a per capita income of approximately 19000USD and Nigeria’s is around 300 USD. Dubai is rated as amongst the most modern cities in the world and is a tourist hub. Lagos is one of the most difficult cities to live in with inadequate basic amenities. Dubai is clean, modern and forward-looking. Lagos is filthy, poor and chaotic.

What makes Dubai so much better than Lagos despite its inherent handicaps? It is quite simply governance. The administration in Dubai has ensured implementation of forward-looking ideas whereas the military junta in Lagos simply occupied themselves in padding up their Swiss accounts. The result is poor law and administration, shabby infrastructure and bad image resulting in businesses and talent staying away from it. Dubai has overcome its natural odds in creating modern infrastructure and efficient law and the outcome is an international city.

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