The pardoning of a British student sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for spying has been welcomed by the UK government. But the balance of power between the countries is changing.
The imprisonment of Matthew Hedges posed a real dilemma for the UK. It had to decide whether to stand up to the UAE, a country with which it does £15 billion of trade, or cave in and risk the perception that it is now the junior partner in the relationship.
Its strong response – and the fact Hedges can now return home – is testament to the UK’s diplomatic weight; this time the UAE flinched.… Seguir leyendo »
Comoro Islands is a tiny East African country with stunning white beaches, a large active volcano and a population just shy of 800,000. Some 150,000 Comorans live in metropolitan France, which governed the Comoros until 1975. In the United Arab Emirates, an estimated 40,000 people carry Comoran passports, too.
The Comorans in the Emirates, however, do not speak their country’s language. They do not resemble the islanders physically or culturally. They were not born there; they have never been there. In fact, until recently, these Comorans were legally stateless, or bidoon.
The bidoon — the word is Arabic for “without” — mainly come from families who lived in the region but were never counted in censuses because of their tribal affiliation, their level of literacy, their ethnic origin or their access to state officials.… Seguir leyendo »
A medida que los gobiernos de todo el Medio Oriente intentan liberarse poco a poco de su dependencia de los recursos naturales y construir economías diversificadas y con capacidad de resiliencia, deberían aprender algunas lecciones de Dubái. Este emirato tiene una historia destacable.
En menos de una generación, Dubái se ha transformado en un importante centro de alto nivel para la inversión, el comercio y la cultura. A pesar de que la crisis financiera mundial del año 2008 golpeó fuertemente a esta Ciudad-Estado (debido a su exposición a activos inmobiliarios con precios inflados), se recuperó rápidamente, según se puede evidenciar por sus postulaciones para ser la sede de eventos, tales como la Expo Mundial 2020.… Seguir leyendo »
November 16, the International Day for Tolerance, is an important time to reflect on the urgent need to promote greater understanding among all people, and bring cultures together.
Divisiveness and polarization are on the rise across the world, and — if left unchecked — this trend will undermine global stability and peace. The UAE is pushing against this rising tide by creating a model that can serve as a road map for others to promote greater tolerance and openness.
Unique government policies, innovative partnerships and interfaith dialogues are three of the ways the UAE is leading by example.
Just this month, the UAE hosted a group of religious leaders — including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Dr.… Seguir leyendo »
En las dos últimas semanas, he oído y leído muchas preguntas, comentarios y artículos periodísticos sobre los cambios recientes en el gobierno de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. ¿Por qué, todos parecen querer saber, creamos un Ministerio de la Felicidad, la Tolerancia y el Futuro, y por qué designamos a un ministro de la Juventud de 22 años?
Los cambios reflejan lo que hemos aprendido a partir de lo sucedido en nuestra región en los últimos cinco años. En particular, hemos aprendido que el no responder de manera efectiva a las aspiraciones de los jóvenes, que representan a más de la mitad de la población en los países árabes, es como nadar contra la corriente.… Seguir leyendo »
At a time of civil war, anarchy, extremism and impoverishment in the Middle East, the city-states of Dubai and Abu Dhabi stand out as the places where Arabic speakers are flourishing, innovating and offering a model for moving forward.
But can it last? I recently visited the United Arab Emirates to seek answers.
To begin with, some basic facts: Once called the Trucial States by British imperialists, the UAE consists of seven small monarchies bordering the Persian Gulf. They banded together in 1971, as the British retreated, to form a single federation.
The country has been doubly blessed: oil and gas abundance along with a smart and commercially minded group of leaders.… Seguir leyendo »
La verdad es que resulta muy difícil para aquellas personas que conforman como ciudadanía parte del proyecto de la UE llegar a entender la pésima gestión por parte del gobierno de Hungría, su incapacidad y falta de respeto a las personas que en su inmensa mayoría abandonan sus hogares frente a la terrible realidad que viven en Siria, Irak o la propia Afganistán; sin olvidar las imágenes de descoordinación logística, falta de recursos humanos y materiales en aquellos países que sin pertenecer al espacio UE se han visto desbordados por este flujo de refugiados, en especial Macedonia. Y, no debe dejarse de lado la dura realidad que se vive en las islas griegas donde no paran de llegar nuevos refugiados que huyen y un gobierno heleno desbordado.… Seguir leyendo »
This summer, disgruntled Saudis took their grievances online in droves, complaining of ever-growing inequality, rising poverty, corruption and unemployment. Their Twitter campaign became one of the world’s highest trending topics. It caused great alarm within elite circles in Saudi Arabia and sent ripples throughout the region. The rallying cry that “salaries are not enough” helped to prove that the monarchy’s social contract with its people is now publicly coming unstuck, and on a significant scale.
Many experts believe that the Gulf states have survived the Arab Spring because they are different. After all, they’ve weathered numerous past storms — from the Arab nationalist revolutions of the 1950s and ’60s to Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait to an Al Qaeda terror campaign in 2003.… Seguir leyendo »
Outside our door, high up in the Burj Khalifa, we board one of the tower’s 57 elevators and are catapulted even higher, to the 123rd floor, as if we were weightless objects being effortlessly lifted through the air. Our ears adjust several times as we speed along at almost 60 feet a second.
This is our journey, a ritual that begins our Friday morning routine, early enough to catch the new light rising over the distant desert.
We have our coffee in the wood-paneled residents’ library, elegantly carpeted with designs mimicking the undulations of dunes and the wispy serifs of Arabic calligraphy.… Seguir leyendo »
It has all the hallmarks of the perfect crime. On the surface, it appeared to be a suicide. The body was arranged peacefully on the floor, with no signs of struggle, a white sheet pulled up to the neck. The right arm was wrapped around a large pillow; the left, exposed, showed a few cuts below the elbow. It was as if he had been laid out neatly in a coffin.
But this picture of a peaceful death by an overdose of anti-depressants was a bit too perfect, a bit too staged. And this was no ordinary victim.
Tom Jay Anderson, 35, was a U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
When the United Arab Emirates announced last week that it would suspend BlackBerry service within its borders starting this fall, business travelers who rely on the handheld devices reacted with understandable dismay. But the decision was greeted quite differently by the men and women who make a living hunting terrorists, smugglers, human traffickers, foreign agents and the occasional team of clumsy assassins. Among law enforcement investigators and intelligence officers, the Emirates’ decision met with approval, admiration and perhaps even a touch of envy.
Why? Because just as professionals depend on mobile devices to do their jobs, law enforcement and intelligence officers depend on electronic surveillance to do theirs.… Seguir leyendo »
For years, the new Hong Kong was Dubai, one of seven United Arab Emirates and a one-time smuggling port on the Persian Gulf, now the latest casualty of “Wild East” casino capitalism. It was all fevered speculation, with little oil and no gas to back it up. An indoor ski slope where the outside temperature hovers above 100 all summer, the world’s tallest building – twice the height of the Empire State Building – and a downtown golf course couldn’t prevent the implosion of Dubai’s speculative bubble.
Thirty minutes away by air, you’re in the Arab El Dorado, no longer the imaginary place of great wealth and opportunity that eluded 16th-century explorers in South America.… Seguir leyendo »
La que se ha denominado década inmobiliaria terminó el 4 de enero de 2010. Ese día se inauguró en Dubai la Torre Califa, un rascacielos cuyos 828 metros lo han hecho el más alto del planeta. Pero el evento tuvo lugar apenas unas semanas después del pánico en los mercados que puso al emirato al borde de la quiebra -rescatado in extremis por Abu Dabi, su álter ego virtuoso y petrolero del Golfo-, y el gigante vio la luz mientras descendían las sombras sobre el experimento urbano más admirado y denostado de los últimos tiempos: un espejo oscuro y ahora craquelado en el que se reflejan los dilemas de nuestras propias ciudades.… Seguir leyendo »
The morning after the United Arab Emirates turned 38, the streets were deserted but for the foreign workers dressed in orange coveralls. They swept the confetti from Dubai’s beach road, wiped Silly String from the lenses of the traffic cameras and retrieved the carcasses of rockets. Long gone were the crystal-encrusted Hummers and Escalades that had paraded up and down in their finery. A cacophony of horns and cheers and firecrackers had filled the night; now everything was quiet.
Abandoned near a bus stop, one S.U.V. still bore the signs of Dec. 2’s celebration: heart-shaped green stickers peppered the hood, streamers in the national colors fluttered at the rear window, the windshield was plastered with an image of Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.… Seguir leyendo »
Dubai is fast becoming the tombstone for capitalist hubris and exuberance, its hollow skyscrapers a poetic shrine to decadence and impunity. While this is a convenient image, like that of the humbled redundant banker with a whopping unsustainable mortgage, it is important to remember that Dubai is not a country, it is an emirate which, albeit independent in governance, is still part of the fabric of the “United” Arab Emirates.
Among the seven emirates in the federation, the classier and more sedate Abu Dhabi is better known to the tourist cognoscenti. Sharjah and Ajman, ruled by more conservative emirs, have been trying to fashion themselves as modern Muslim states.… Seguir leyendo »
Make no mistake,” a friend told me over lunch in Abu Dhabi a few months ago. “Everyone here knows Dubai’s in trouble, but this isn’t the new Lehman. Abu Dhabi will help them out but there will be a heavy price to pay. Dubai will soon be a suburb of Abu Dhabi.”
While global financial markets nervously await clarification of Dubai’s debt restructuring, the Emirates are alive with talk of political change. Abu Dhabi’s refusal to sign a blank cheque to underwrite Dubai Inc has shocked the world far more than it has shocked the region.
It has been common knowledge here for months that Dubai’s property investment business is on the ropes.… Seguir leyendo »
When the University of Chicago professor, Robert Z Aliber, came to Reykjavik in 2007 and saw the many building cranes rising from the tiny and northernmost capital in the world, he immediately saw that the bubble was going to burst. Like most critics of Iceland’s economic boom at the time, his prediction was dismissed by the whole Icelandic establishment. They claimed that Aliber, as a foreigner, didn’t have a profound enough understanding of the uniqueness of the Icelandic society.
When the Icelandic Viking economy came crumbling down in the second week of October 2008, many economists started to take another look at Aliber’s theory.… Seguir leyendo »
By Ross Clark (THE TIMES, 17/10/08):
Having taken the odd nocturnal stroll along Norfolk’s beaches, I am no stranger to the sound of rustling grasses and cries of delight in the sand dunes. And I can’t say that I’ve ever suffered a Mary Whitehouse moment and fired off a missive about moral decay to the council, the local newspaper or anyone else. So long as plein-airists choose a quiet spot away from children and don’t leave behind condoms or broken bottles, as far as I am concerned, they can carry on frolicking from Bognor to Blackpool.
But not in Dubai. The most shocking thing about the case of Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, who have just been jailed for three months there after being found guilty of having sex on a beach, is that they themselves appear to be shocked.… Seguir leyendo »
By Robert J. Samuelson (THE WASHINGTON POST, 14/03/06):
The idea of letting an Arab-owned company, Dubai Ports World, run container terminals at some major U.S. ports struck many Americans as an absurdity. Why not just turn control over to al-Qaeda? In late February a CBS News poll found that 70 percent of respondents were against the deal and only 21 percent in favor. The company’s withdrawal last week can be seen as a triumph of public opinion. Or it can be acknowledged for what it is: a major defeat for the United States, driven by self-indulgent politicians of both parties who enthusiastically fanned public fears.… Seguir leyendo »
By Eugene Robinson (THE WASHINGTON POST, 10/03/06):
For years now, the Republican leaders in Congress have been the Pips to George W. Bush’s Gladys Knight. He invades Iraq on shaky premises that ultimately fall apart and they sing “woo-woo” in perfect harmony. He subjects terror suspects to arbitrary, indefinite detention and interrogation by techniques most people would call torture and the congressional leadership twirls in graceful unison. He smothers the country with an unprecedented blanket of electronic surveillance and from Capitol Hill comes a sweet refrain: “You’re the best thing, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”
But this week the Pips grabbed the microphone and elbowed their way to center stage.… Seguir leyendo »