I recently visited UAE; spent most of the time in Dubai and Sharjah. I was simply amazed by the rate of economic growth in this country given that the country is basically a barren land. (Unlike other middle east countries, here only 7% of the economy is made up of oil) Even with the harsh weather conditions they have, they have been able to attract people all over the world to invest in their developments & trades and make up for what they don't have.
We in Sri Lanka sometimes complaint that we cannot grow since we don't have natural resources, mainly oil. Comparing to UAE, SL has a far better landscape but still we are way behind in development or as a tourist destination. IMO, we as a country don't have a vision what it will look like in, say, 10 years; the government is not committed to have such a vision.
Why is that brain drain is so common in SL? I have many educated friends who have migrated to different countries..it's true we get foreign currency but the damage caused by that is far greater; the government does not have a plan to retain educated people in the country.
It is time we as a country realize these weaknesses and have an action plan to overcome them.
(I am no expert to comment on the economy; this is what I feel about it).