Dubai, gearing up for a new development boom, will need to prove to lenders and investors that this one won't end like the last.

With the same bravura that turned the desert sheikhdom into a hub for finance, tourism and real estate, the government is pitching massive projects in the hope of inspiring investment even as banks and builders remain buried under debt from the property-market collapse in 2008.

"They are floating a trial balloon to see how the market responds," said Jim Krane, a researcher at Cambridge University's Judge Business School and author of the 2009 book "City of Gold, Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism." Dubai has excelled at "soaking up the excess liquidity in an oil-rich region. The city's game is to create schemes to channel some of that liquidity to itself."

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