Monday, September 14, 2009

Our dependence on foreign oil

Dubai opened its metro system last week and celebrated an early success with more than 100,000 riders in the first two days of service.

The $7.6 billion system came in 80 percent over cost estimates but is carrying a significant amount of the city's population, at least in the opening days of service.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates and the most populous state of the United Arab Emirates with a population of 1.2 million. Dubai's economy was originally built on oil industry revenues. Today, real estate, financial centers and tourism drive the economy with the oil industry contributing only six percent of the economic revenues.

Oil, and its byproducts, catapulted the Arab States into financial power which we have seen wielded on the international stage.

Which makes me wonder what will happen if the U.S. and other western nations become independent of foreign oil with the advent of electric cars and other non-petroleum fuels.

Will the balance of financial power shift away from the Middle East? Will the U.S. and other economies reshift the financial playing field?

The Dubai Metro is being touted for its luxury features and premium services. I contrast that with so many American cities that are struggling to provide even basic services.

Dubai, and much of the United Arab Emirates, is basking in its oil wealth.

I, for one, would be happy to drive an electric car if it meant some of that wealth could be brought back to American shores.

David Fierro is a transportation public affairs consultant. He is a former newspaper and magazine editor and worked for both the Florida and Virginia departments of transportation. He resides in Sanford, Florida.

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