Dubai is back - back tapping global credit markets with oversubscribed bond issues, back to conquering world markets with its impressive state companies, back to telling a convincing story of its future as a trade hub connecting east and west.

Sure, the stock market is still looking grim, the debt issues remain the same, and the strange games of financial brinkmanship with Abu Dhabi continue.

But for now, look at a far simpler barometer of sentiment toward the city state that could, and then couldn't, and now can again. As Dubai's debt neared default and its housing bubble burst, its story as told by the colorful side of the world media was a true PR disaster, and in a city that depends as much on sentiment as economics, that was seriously bad news.

"Welcome to the last days of Rome," The Times said as it surveyed the city in late 2009. "By any conventional logic Dubai is now a busted flush." The Toronto Star called the town a "ruin in waiting" that "will be obsolete in less time than it takes most communities to figure out who and what they are."

A columnist at The Guardian turned it up a notch: "the towers of Dubai will become casualties not of human greed but of architectural folly. Their lifts and services, expensive to maintain, will collapse. Their colossal facades will shed glass. Sand will drift round their trunkless legs. Animals will inhabit their basements," he warned.

"The days of Dubai being seen as a millionaires' playground appear over," wrote The Sun, while in an epoch-defining piece, The Independent noted that "the very earth is trying to repel Dubai, to dry it up and blow it away."

Those articles are becoming a rarity these days but little encapsulates Dubai's return to the old, pre-crash narrative, of wealth, glitter and bling, better than a simple fact box published on Tuesday in the Daily Mail.

As an explainer alongside a story about the robbery of a Dubai royal family staffer in London, here's how the paper described Dubai and its rulers:


Just fifty years ago Dubai was just little more than a small village on a desolate piece of desert with traders, fishermen and pearl-divers eking out a meagre living.

But when oil was struck in 1971, the Al Maktoum royal family began using the black gold to turn the dusty outpost into a glimmering modern metropolis.

Today the city, which is studded with skyscrapers and sportscars, has become a byword for bling. And few families are flashier than the Maktoums.

Sandhurst-educated Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 61, used his £1million-a-day earnings to build the £1billion Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, among a host of glittering construction projects in the city.

His many royal relatives are also known for their extravagant tastes. One of the crown prince’s 21 sons, Sheikh Hamdan, who likes to spend time in London, a fleet of £100,000-plus supercars, including Porches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

He also has a passion for camels and skydiving.

To such a family the £2million sum is a drop in the ocean.

Dubai Inc creditors are advised that in future, when negotiating over debt, discuss sums in units of drops-in-the-ocean. They are abundant.

See also:
Revolution fatigue? Overtaxed? Join the flight to Dubai - FT Tilt
Keeping it in the family at Dubai Inc - FT Tilt
Coverage of Dubai - FT Tilt