Feb 21, 2006

Now I know it's a bad idea

Jimmy Carter approves of the Dubai port deal.

Also weighing in, The Financial Times bashes Congressional protectionism, which it claims has a "racist tinge."
Dubai is the most dynamic of the glittering city-states that run down the east of the Arabian peninsula. It long ago decided to invest its (relatively modest) endowment of oil in other ways of making a living. So far, it has done very well. By creating excellent airport infrastructure and Emirates, one of the world's best and most profitable airlines, it seeded not just a regional but international air transport, transhipment and tourism hub. It has also become a regional financial and services centre. Oil revenue now amounts to only 7 per cent of Dubai's income, although it benefits from its federal ties with oil-flush Abu Dhabi.

It excites a bit of derision by seeming to want the biggest of everything: the largest man-made island, the highest tower (the planned 3,000 feet-plus Burj Dubai), the richest horse-racing prize or the biggest airliners' order. Yet its diversification strategy is increasingly admired and copied in a region that desperately needs to create jobs.

But some western governments and international companies - while benefiting from the boom in Dubai and the UAE - tend to be either patronising or paranoid. Either Dubai's success is overreach and financial levitation, or murky and in hock to sinister Arab aims. Being the Singapore of the Gulf is not the same as being Singapore.

James Zogby agrees.
Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute, accused lawmakers of "shameful" political grandstanding in raising terror concerns about an Arab-owned firm.

"This is more about local politics" than security issues, Zogby said. "The United Arab Emirates is a friend and ally. They invest in us heavily."

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