In a recent trip to the Middle East, the author was granted the opportunity to speak at the Leaders in Dubai Business Forum along with best-selling writer Tom Peters, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and former McKinsey CEO Rajat Gupta. Most of the speakers were addressing their depressingly screwed-up economy. The author decided on a different tack and presented some thoughts on emerging new systems of government power. One idea in particular raised a few eyebrows among the Dubai group: selling islands as autonomous countries. For the country selling off new islands, an economic opportunity emerges: Official recognition of new micronations could be sold or rented as part of the new-nation package. Nation creation also offers the unique opportunity to select one's neighbors. This is where nation creation becomes really profitable. A newly formed island with no indigenous people and no existing structures or government becomes a perfect laboratory for experimentation.
BY THOMAS FREY WHO SAYS THEY’VE STOPPED MAKING REAL ESTATE? ONE FUTURIST EXPLORES THE ULTIMATE START-UP, THE PRIVATE COUNTRY. ILLUSTRATION BY LISA MATHIAS USING IMAGES FROM AYAAZ RATTANSI / ISTOCKPHOTO.COM AND PETIT ST. VINCENT O n a recent trip to the Middle a distinct advantage when it comes trols a stable population in a de- East, I was granted the oppor- to island building, because the Per- limited territory. tunity to speak at the Leaders sian Gulf is a far more stable body of In the past, we have associated the in Dubai Business Forum water than most other oceans. The concept of country with attributes along with best-selling writer Tom question I presented to the Dubai such as a single geographical terri- Peters, former New York City Mayor Leaders who were anxious about tory, a common people with a com- Rudy Giuliani, former World Bank how the global economic downturn mon language, a common govern- President James Wolfensohn, and might affect their tourist indus- ment with its own currency and its former McKinsey CEO Rajat Gupta. try — the question I now present to own set of laws and regulations, and Most of the speakers were address- you, the reader — is simple: Is there a series of systems that tie people, ing our depressingly screwed-up any money in this? geography, and property into a func- economy. I decided on a different There has always been profit to be tional entity. tack and presented some thoughts made and lost in coastal real estate. The impetus to build or settle one’s on emerging new systems of govern- But these innovations in the creation own island country would be far ment power. of land could lead to the creation of simpler: the freedom of self-rule. One idea in particular raised a few real estate that is unattached and un- For each person, the freedoms as- eyebrows among the Dubai group: affiliated with any existing nation- sociated with any self-governing selling islands as autonomous coun- state or indigenous group — land country will be prioritized differ- tries. that can be sold as an autonomous ently. Some will see this as a mere Dubai and the United Arab Emir- country. No such opportunity has scheme to avoid taxes, while others ates are on the cutting edge of island- ever before existed in human history. will see it as an opportunity to build building technology. Their creative something great. Perhaps the great- approach to building Palm Island, a est value of an independent island What Exactly Is a Country? series of artificial islands in the Per- nation is as a proving ground for ex- sian Gulf, along with the coming The dictionary definition of a na- perimentation. Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali, tion is “A part, or division, of the Palm Deira, and The World, have be- people of the earth, distinguished International Recognition: come an inspiration to other coun- from the rest by common descent, Debacle or Opportunity tries. In Bahrain, Thailand, and the language, or institutions; a race; a Netherlands, new islands are also s t o c k . ” L a w p ro f e s s o r P a s t o r Once a new country is formed, the springing to life. Ridruejo defines a nation as an entity issue of recognition comes into play. Countries in the Middle East have with a government that totally con- The new country would begin life as 30 THE FUTURIST May-June 2009 www.wfs.org © 2009 World Future Society • 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, MD 20814, U.S.A. • All rights reserved. a micronation, a term referring to a newly established small-land-mass nation seeking to get recognized by THE CASE FOR MICRONATIONS AND other governments around the world ARTIFICIAL ISLANDS (a micronation is really just a small By McKinley Conway nation). Recognition is a primary fac- tor in an emerging country’s credibil- ity and often determines the stability In early centuries, artificial is- projects are those proposed by cre- of the new government and the role lands were built to create home ators of new micronations. Among it will play in the international arena. sites easier to defend against wild t
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