December 23, 2007


Dubai: Iran's Hong Kong (Arnaud de Borchgrave, December 21, 2007 , Washington Times)

Today, some 500,000 Iranians are residents of the U.A.E. — 400,000 in Dubai alone, out of more than 2 million people. Many immigrated after the Iranian revolution when the shah was overthrown, planning to continue to Europe and North America. But many were taken by the relaxed lifestyle and incentives offered new residents. Iranian investments in Dubai recently topped $350 billion. Some 7,500 Iranian-owned companies operate out of Dubai.

A sleepy contraband port of 25,000 devoted to gold smuggling as recently as 1971, Dubai's tallest building then had three floors. It now is a booming city state that boasts the world's tallest skyscraper (still under construction); its tallest hotel in the shape of a giant sail headed into the Gulf; its most luxurious hotels (where some junior suites start at $5,000 a night and go up to $25,000); an 18-hole downtown golf course; an indoor ski slope with ski lift; and the world's largest theme park, Dubailand.

Man-made islands in the shape of as palm tree, dotted with pricey villas, have quadrupled Dubai's 25-mile-long coastline. A 50-mile subway and a $33 billion Dubai World Central airport with six runways and a capacity of 100 million passengers per year are also under construction. And 55 double-decker Airbus 380 super jumbos are on order. Fifty percent of the world's cranes are now in use in Dubai; 25 percent in Shanghai; 25 percent in the rest of the world.

Some of Dubai's districts are known as "Little Tehran." Iranians have their own clubs, and Iranian restaurants do a thriving business throughout the Emirates.

Little understood among advocates of tighter economic sanctions against Iran is that the U.A.E. is Iran's first trading partner. Iran imports more than $10 billion from the U.A.E. and orders many embargoed items with documents that guarantee Dubai as their final destination. Heavy equipment, machines, mobile phones, auto parts, communication systems are all legal commerce.

Earlier this year, the U.S. government gave the U.A.E. a list of Iranian companies it considers "bogus" that seek to violate the U.S. embargo on Tehran. Ties between the two sides of the Gulf in Dubai are tighter than between the city-state and Washington.

Dubai is to Iran's theocracy what British-ruled Hong Kong was to China's communist overlords — a gigantic entrepot. Dubai's chamber of commerce map of its trading relations runs South-South, from Morocco to Indonesia, thus erasing the traditional North-South divide between rich and poor.

Hong Kong is important to China because it shows what Chinese couldf achieve if governed like Brits. Likewise, Dubai is a standing rebuke to the economic backwardness of Khomeinism

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2007 9:43 AM
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