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Dubai not to cause worry

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, March 8, 2006

I welcome Ian Ronderos’ viewpoint (March 7) criticizing Congressional opposition to the takeover of P&O by Dubai World Ports. When P&O, a British company, was running U.S. ports, one did not read “foreign” and “security risk” in the same sentence, but now that an Arab company will run them, we do. Clearly, the U.S. response is a racist one.

In the United Kingdom, the response to the takeover of P&O, a company that helped to build the British Empire, by a company located in Dubai, an emirate of the United Arab Emirates, a country created after independence from Britain in 1971, has been met with a yawn. Dubai WP will control several key ports in Britain also, including the U.K.’s biggest container port, yet the discourse of “security risk” has been absent. Why so? Perhaps the reason is that Dubai is perceived in very different terms in the U.K.

Dubai’s economy is diverse – tourism/travel, high-tech industry and shipping constitute its economy; oil accounts for six percent of revenue. Emirates, the airline of Dubai, regularly wins best-airline awards and is a popular airline for Brits traveling to South East Asia and Australia as well as to Dubai. [English soccer team] Arsenal’s new stadium is named after Dubai’s airline, thanks to a sponsorship deal. Long weekend breaks at the seven-star Burj al Arab hotel or shopping trips to the world’s biggest mall, located in the emirate, or to ogle at what will be the world’s biggest building, the Burj Dubai, currently under construction, aren’t uncommon. Thirty percent of the islands in the Palm Islands property development, a series of private islands that form the outline of the world, off the coast of Dubai, have been sold to British people. Dubai isn’t some dodgy terrorist haven. It’s where the British get winter sun and buy their True Religion jeans.

Sure, Dubai is not perfect. The government controls the ISPs, migrants and their children born in the emirate often can’t get citizenship and a hotel which ran a gay night was told the content was fine, but the publicity would have to change. There can be no celebration of homosexuality in Dubai, the hotel’s management was told. Does that sound like anywhere closer to home?

Martin Lainagraduate studentOff-campusMarch 7