It has represented the type of political model which has been promoted to the Arabs, by their rulers and by the West.
When George W Bush, the former US president, visited the United Arab Emirates during his last year in office, he praised Dubai and its models of economic and political prosperity; he promoted the UAE's mantra and ethos as glimmers of hope to the new generation of Arabs.
It took the former president little more than a few hours during his stop-over to assess the conditions in the region, and to reach his conclusions: resistance to Israel clashes with the type of prosperity that was prevalent in Dubai.Dubai hit a dramatic rise in the 1990s and became a success story that was carefully calibrated, promoted and disseminated in the Arab media and collective psyche.
Daniel Pipes, who has a reputation for hostility towards Arabs and Muslims, was interviewed two years ago in the Jerusalem Post praising Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, after the release of his memoirs.
There was not one word about Palestine in that book which nevertheless offered a recipe of unregulated and unrestricted capitalism.
Dubai was supposed to be the antithesis of Palestine. It was designed to create a concrete Utopia that would encourage all young Arabs to forget about their political aspirations and dreams.
In Lebanon, the March 14 opposition movement has been posing this question to the Lebanese people for three years: Hanoi or Dubai? But Hanoi is today a far more promising model than Dubai.
Not only has Hanoi been liberated from foreign occupation and a corrupt puppet regime, but it has also become part of a sovereign country with a record of fast economic growth.
Much has been written about Dubai and even more will be written about the emirate which was positioned as the success story that all Arabs were to emulate.
However, its success is not based on sound economic or classical political theories. It was in fact a projection of what the West wanted to see in the Middle East.
This projection represented the fruits of US co-operation with Middle Eastern governments, especially in the realm of defence and national security. Dubai was more important for the US due to military intelligence co-operation than for its lavish seven-star hotels.Dubai was supposed to be a vision but one not rooted in the productive sectors of the economy.
There were early warnings of the debacle that struck Dubai World - too much glitz and ostentation and little attention to a careful building of culture and economy that reflect the region.
There was a rush to build multi-billion dollar artificial ski slopes and playgrounds for the very rich of the world.
But Dubai did not want to be part of the region, politically speaking. Instead it modelled itself as a copy of Las Vegas in the heart of the Arab Middle East.
Dubai carefully steered away from all the issues that alarmed and agitated Arab public opinion.