Dubai-Mumbai-Las Vegas; Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Shah Rukh Khan – all this in one story?

Erin Burnett could have done this story in her India Special on CNBC. Well, coulda, woulda, shoulda as a young, perky colleague used to say! At least, now Ms. Burnett can read it here.

Before doing her excellent One Hour Special on India, Erin Burnett had done a similar special on Dubai. But like most European-American reporters, she made no attempt to link these two specials, despite a suggestion by Bill Marriott. 

In case, you did not know, the rise of Dubai in the 1960s had a lot to do with Mumbai. In 1964, Morarji Desai, the Finance Minister of India, decided that it was time for the Indian people to diversify their gold holdings in to financial securities such as stocks, bonds, term deposits. He was a puritan, authoritative man and, in an act of power-bred stupidity, he BANNED sale of gold in India. Imagine, telling Indian families that they could not buy gold!

Overnight, the gold dealers at the Dubai Gold Sukh, jumped in to action. Gold Smuggling as a business was born. Small, flat-bed boats started plying the placid Dubai-Mumbai route across the Arabian Sea carrying gold from Dubai to Mumbai and carrying cash back. 

This was the birth of Dubai as a commercial trading city. Just as Las Vegas owes its birth to the prohibition on alcohol in America, Dubai owes its birth as a trading capital to the gold prohibition in India. Like Las Vegas, Dubai has never looked back.    

Bollywood films in the late 1960s reflected this reality. The most iconic of these films is “Deewar”, the second film in the great Amitabh Bachchan trilogy (Zanjeer, Deewar and Trishul).

Then, in 1973-1974, the oil embargo gave Dubai its next explosion of capital and money. The rest, as they say, is history.

The opening shot of Erin Burnett’s India special could have shown her standing in a flat boat in the middle of the Arabian Sea with the Mumbai skyline in view. She could pointed to Dubai on one side of the sea and Mumbai on the other and described the historical links between the two cities. Instead, she chose to open her serial sitting in a chair in a bland studio. 
During her Dubai special, Erin Burnett gave extensive coverage to Palm Island Properties, a development of man-made islands off of Dubai.  According to Zee News, this development was so hot that Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise were put on awaiting list of buyers. On the other hand, the developers of Palm Island, invited Shah Rukh Khan to grace this development by offering him a free house. The presence of Shah Rukh Khan as a resident was deemed critical to the development’s success, a testimonial to the following King Khan enjoys globally. This is a Dubai-Mumbai, Hollywood-Bollywood link

As we have said before, the Erin Burnett special was very good. But, it lacked pizazz and “masti”. After all, good research to a Business TV Special is like a good story to a Bollywood film.

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