If you happen to be on the moon some time, cast a glimpse down to Dubai on the Arabian Peninsular. Here a glittering palm tree shaped island will be visible shining into space - a man-made construction which contains more than 30 five-star hotels as well as residences for the glitterati like Brad Pitt, David Beckham, and other people who choose to be more anonymous. That is just in 2010 - two more paradise islands are planned, as well as a 300 island archipelago representing all the countries of the world. And another one featuring the universe.
Where is the world’s tallest building? The world’s only seven-start hotel? Which country currently has the most cranes in the world? The world’s largest indoor skiing slope? That’s right: Planet Dubai. Apparently when driving into town from the airport the visitor is greeted by billboards proclaiming “Welcome to Everything”, “Be Unlimited”, “Anything is Possible”. (Note 1)
You will not be surprised then to see that the horoscope of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which includes Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai, shows the Sun on the Midheaven conjoining and at the exact midpoint of Jupiter and Neptune in Sagittarius. What could be a better astrological signature for a country which expands out into the ocean creating fantasy islands that contain the world, the universe… well, Everything?
Dubai: 2.12.1971 12.00 25N18 55E18 (Book of World Horoscopes)
The United Arab Emirates were proclaimed at 12 noon in Dubai on December 2nd 1971 at the time of an exact full moon, with the Sun at 9.29 Sagittarius and the moon at 9.36 Gemini. What makes these degrees fascinating is that they are placed on the fixed stars Aldebaran- the Eye of the Bull - and Antares - the eye of the Scorpion. These are amongst the brightest stars in the universe, placed exactly opposite each other and they have traditionally been revered in the Arab world, far back in history when they formed the axis for the Age of Taurus. Furthermore, the epoch-making Pluto/Neptune conjunction of 1891-2 took place at 8-9 degrees Gemini, marking out a 492 year long planetary cycle, which encapsulates the iconic dreams and ideas of world history. With the full moon in Dubai’s chart activating this conjunction, it probably has a significant role to play for a half-millennium or so.
Which might explain why its ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum feels the call to build a 21st century Xanadu in a desert country with average summer temperatures of 40+ C and virtually zero rainfall. Really the place should not exist. In a Muslim society with strict restraints on alcohol and sex, there is no difficulty getting a drink or buying other more forbidden services. Despite the apparent openness, there is no parliament or political parties, and no trade unions either. Which is bad news for the approximately 50% of the population who are Indians and Bangladeshis slaving away in temperatures that can reach 50C and living in labor camps conveniently placed an hour or so away out of town.
The rise of Dubai and Abu Dhabi has been meteoric. In the early fifties the population was about 20,000, whilst now it is 1.4 million. (Note 2) Even 30 years ago it was mostly desert and scrub. But with the rise of Arab fortunes after the first Oil Crisis of 1972, prosperity came quickly. Interestingly Mercury is exactly stationary in Dubai’s chart, which means that at the country’s inception it had extended itself to the furthest it can go in relation to the sun. Overextended in fact in its sign of detriment. From 1972 to 1992 it progressed retrograde, conjoining Jupiter in Sagittarius on the way - once in 1983 and then in 2007 - which pretty much indicates its expansion period. In 2011 it will once again be at the degree at which it started - 28 Sagittarius, and in 2012 it will enter Capricorn and face reality, where it will go on to meet the Venus/Pluto square. More on this later.
After the 2nd Gulf War, with oil prices hitting the roof, the region had more money than it knew what to do with. Dubai has in fact very little oil, so it wisely adopted a policy of building up its image as an international center, both politically and business wise. “Where shopping is a lifestyle” as the billboards say. With no income tax Western investors streamed to the country, and it embarked on an orgy of building.
However, if the truth be told, today the skyline is dominated by half-finished skyscrapers, and the hotels and shopping malls are in trouble. Dubai has proved to be just as vulnerable to the financial meltdown as other countries. When the global financial crisis hit Dubai, prices collapsed by 50 percent in a year leaving projects unfinished or scrapped. The horoscope for Dubai is dominated by the full moon conjoining Jupiter and on a Saturn/Neptune opposition. Whilst Saturn/Neptune does show a desert state with fortunes founded on oil (from Abu Dhabi), and does show the ability to build a new city on millions of tons of rock transported out into the sea, the Saturn/Neptune opposition also requires an element of realism. In many ways the full moon in Dubai’s chart shows an extravagant dream built on the slave labor of poor immigrants - the Moon/Saturn conjoining the IC.
Although Sheik Mohammed has been much worshipped hitherto by the business community, the Sun/Neptune/Jupiter square Mars in Pisces in Dubai’s chart shows rulers who not only are visionaries… but also dreamers. He has forged ahead with fairy tale developments, wooing investors and creating his own massive speculative bubble. Dubai’s own development vehicle, Dubai World, shook markets in December 2009 demanding a moratorium on its $60 billion debt, meaning that it can no longer keep up payments. Abu Dhabi has reluctantly indicated that it will help, but other major developments are still at risk. The creditworthiness of Dubai has been downgraded by international institutions.
Financial markets try to make reassuring noises about Dubai, pointing to the oil revenues in the region and to Dubai’s status as a business center, but all the astrological indications are that the current crisis with Dubai World is not just a blip on the radar screen. It is in fact the beginning of a long process of economic restructuring that will not end until 2014 at the earliest. The transit of Pluto over Dubai’s Venus in Capricorn is the warning shot. Clearly money is going to dry up, or at least be subject to draconian lending terms. The United Arab Emirates has a Venus/Pluto square to start with, so this is a development that has always been on the cards, it was just a matter of time. Now with transiting Saturn on Pluto on the one hand, and transiting Pluto on Venus on the other, Dubai is caught in a vice, and the screw will be tightened in 2010, bringing the highest level of discomfort from July to November 2010, the latter date being the final square from Pluto to Venus.
The movement of progressed Mercury - as it returns to its birth position - will be a reminder of the latent folly in the UAR chart, and when Mercury progresses into Capricorn as 2012 starts, Dubai will start applying its first strong dose of reality as concrete steps will be taken to place limits on the unreal expansion that has taken place. A new iron administration will take control from 2012 to 2014 which embodies an acceptance of traditional business realities. In other words the concept “Be Unlimited” will no longer apply.
Other indications that the euphoric mood of Dubai will slump can be seen in the movement of the progressed Moon which has been in Libra and the 8th house since 2007, highlighting the architectural achievements with borrowed money. In February 2010 the Moon will move into Scorpio, still in the 8th house, and Dubai will find itself mired in debt.
Furthermore, transiting Neptune is now extending its tentacles to the UAR Ascendant which it will station on in May 2010 and subsequently transit three more times, leaving Dubai metaphorically submerged by the time the last transit takes place in December 2011. Fortunately Dubai’s geographical placement in the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf makes it immune to a tsunami, but there will be no immunity to the flood of dismay that the economic downturn will bring.
Of course Dubai will prevail, and in the future it will live out the dreams and fantasies of the world and the universe. With the Sun and Moon on Aldebaran and Antares - two of the four royal stars of the Persians, Dubai will continue to make fantastic architectural statements to the world once this time of crisis is over. But it will always be vulnerable to hubris - such is the nature of a Sun conjoining a strong Jupiter in the 10th house of a nation’s chart. Dubai is entering a period of contraction when loss and debt will eliminate its natural optimism for a while. It will enter a period of chaos, when there is no longer a clear sense of direction. The Neptune transit to the Ascendant may also have repercussions for the many immigrant workers, who will lose their jobs, but not want or be able to go home. The Pluto transiting Dubai’s Venus will see Sheik Mohammed losing investor friends… and discovering who his real friends are. Nevertheless it is worth noting that Dubai’s progressive Mars trines Dubai’s Sun from 2010 to 2011, and this could indicate that he will take an active role in leading Dubai out of economic danger in the years to come through courageous initiatives, not least in continuing to convince investors that Dubai has a future.
I do hope so… prices have already gone down for the Burj al Aran 7-star hotel. (Now starting at only $1500 per night).
Adrian Ross Duncan 14.12.2009
1. Guardian Weekly: journalist Jon Henley 11.12.2009.
2. Information from Wikipedia