In President Saakashvili’s own words, on Monday the 21st:
“It is said about me that I love exaggerating.”
Quite right. For example, Saakashvili has frequently predicted rose-coloured futures for Georgia’s economy. And so he went again last Monday:
“I have recently been in Dubai and I want to tell you without any exaggeration [...] I can say without any hyperbolization, that if Georgia continues developing like it does now, we’ll be there, where Dubai is now in five, six, or seven years.”
According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2009 Georgia’s GDP (PPP) per capita was 4,757 dollar, and that of the United Arab Emirates 36,537. It does not give the specific GDP per capita of Dubai, but if anything, that will only be higher. There are several other way’s to measure a country’s development, some of which are perhaps more essential than GDP, but these show a similar picture.
The Idea that Georgia can bridge its gap with Dubai in seven years time is fantastic. Saakashvili’s insistence that he is not exaggerating or ‘hyperbolising’ only serve to make his statements even more laughable.
If this were all, we could just dismiss Saakashvili’s comments as symptomatic for his love for exaggeration. But his stated aim for Georgia to emulate Dubai, and a similar statement on the 15th that Singapore should serve as a model for Georgia are also a cause for worry. While Dubai and Singapore have enjoyed great economic success, their societies are in many ways deeply illiberal. For Dubai, this was described last year in an excellent article by The Independent’s Johann Hari.
Let’s hope Saakashvili really wasn’t serious.