Desert Diversification

ABU DHABIInvesting in solar power and other green technologies. Hopes to create a financial-services sector by building on management talent at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and other government funds. Spending lavishly on cultural and sports projects ranging from a branch of the Louvre to a Ferrari-themed amusement park and a Formula One race.

BAHRAINAs the earliest financial hub in the region, the tiny island kingdom is now scrambling to compete with Dubai in attracting Islamic and Western-style banks. The latest bid to lure lenders is the Bahrain Financial Harbour, a $3 billion seaside city in the capital, Manama, with state-of-the art office space.

QATARHas earmarked some $145 billion for diversification efforts such as a financial center focusing on asset management and insurance. Has grand ambitions in culture and education: A vast Islamic art museum sits on a promontory above the Gulf, and a 2,500-acre educational center houses branches of six international universities.

SAUDI ARABIAHas become a world leader in petrochemicals via joint ventures with Shell and ExxonMobil (XOM). Expanding into plastics, steel, and auto parts. Has opened up investment banking in an effort to attract foreign capital and aims to build a half-dozen new cities with sprawling industrial parks and housing for hundreds of thousands of workers.

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