Dubai-ous business

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Lincoln Allison doesn't care for Islam, but he loves traveling to Muslim countries, particularly Dubai, in which he sees hopeful signs for the future:

Is the future of East-West relations to be understood from Iraq or Iran or Algeria? Or is the real clue to be found in Dubai, a place that writers of fiction would not dare make up and academics have great difficulty in theorising. It is the non-society society where religion, ethnicity, culture, nationality are private matters, where more than 90% of the population come from somewhere else. It has the world's fanciest mosques, but also the headquarters of the International Cricket Council and the venues for global events in motor racing, horse racing, golf and rugby. It is the afterthought to empire, duplicating British Indian and Ottoman pluralisms and ethnic divisions of functioning: the Pakistanis do the work, the Brits do the organising and the Arabs collect the rent.

Ex-pats compare it to Hong Kong under the Cultural Revolution and Portugal during the war, a neutral territory where people find that pressing their normal ideological positions does not serve their interests. Rumours talk of protection money going to Al Qaeda, of Osama Bin Laden being treated in the American Hospital and of the property boom collapsing like a burst balloon if there is a single terrorist bomb.

It is a place that everybody ought to see to understand their own era - like Manchester in the 1840s or New York in the 1890s. Where will it all be in 50 years time? Globalisation will stand or fall with Dubai? I would want it to stand because I like the idea of a society where commerce is a higher reality than religion. Most people want it to stand and believe it is going to, judging from the numbers of Westerners who are buying property there, as in other Arab countries. East-West pluralism certainly works better there than it does in Burnley. But there can be no pretense that commerce and religion can be kept entirely apart: witness the recent legal nightmares which occur when the owners of real estate (fully allowed to foreigners only this century) die and their wives cannot inherit under Muslim law!

Commerce doesn't trump deep-seated anti-Israel attitudes either, as Dick Morris reports in his latest column:

But don't be fooled. Dubai, which is one of the seven princedoms of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is anything but tolerant and progressive.

To put it bluntly: They don't like Jews.

In fact, Dubai, like the rest of the UAE, is blatantly anti-Semitic. It bars all Israeli citizens from ever setting foot in the country. People from other nations whose passport have stamps indicating they've even visited Israel must notify Dubai immigration authorities of the stamp before entering.

Dubai is also actively involved in the Arab boycott of Israel: It bans all products made in Israel and even ones with parts made in Israel.

Dubai is engaged in a massive PR push to attract Western investment. One result was attracting the world HQ of Halliburton. A key agent in their PR campaign is Der Schlickmeister himself:

Dubai's PR machine went into high gear after 9/11 - in part to distract attention from the extensive use the terrorists made of the emirate. More than half of the hijackers traveled to the United States via Dubai. The 9/11 Commission noted that $234,500 of the $300,000 wired to the hijackers and plot leaders in America came via Dubai banks.

Several months after 9/11, Dubai's newest best friend began his public association with the country. In January 2002, Bill Clinton gave his first Dubai speech (for $300,000). He' been legitimizing the country ever since.

Clinton was the rainmaker who introduced the emir to his friend and employer, Ron Berkle, the owner of Yucaipa companies and a major fund-raiser for Bill and Hillary.

Last year, Yucaipa and the emir formed a new company, DIGL, for their joint ventures. So Bill Clinton is now an adviser and member of the board of directors of a company that is in partnership with the anti-Israeli government of Dubai.

The Clintons won't reveal how much the former president pocketed for setting up this deal, except to report on Hillary's Senate disclosure form: "more than $1,000."

A lot more. According to San Francisco Examiner columnist P.J. Corkery, Clinton makes $10 million a year from Yucaipa.

Morris doesn't let prominent Republican retirees off the hook either -- George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John Sununu are mentioned as helping to legitimize the country in the U. S.

Perhaps Dubai is in transition and modernization will encourage them to drop their anti-Israel stance. But it will probably take some pressure in that direction, some encouragement from the Emir's friends in America to make that happen.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 24, 2007 10:30 PM.

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