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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Population > 1.3 million

Leading indicator > One-fifth of the world's construction cranes are at work in Dubai

Fast companies > Dubai Holding; Emaar Properties; many, many foreign technology and media outfits

Google "Dubai" and "world's largest." You'll find listings for the world's largest hotel, shopping mall, airport, aluminum plant, and waterfront development. Part Vegas, part Miami, part New York, Dubai aspires to become a juggernaut where capitalism is the one true faith. The downsides: growing traffic, destruction of sensitive ecosystems, and a slap from Human Rights Watch.