Geopolitics

The view from Dubai

The purpose of this brief posting is to present the link to last night’s Press TV, Iran program about latest developments in the Ukraine-Russia war. I had the pleasure of sharing the panel with Fred Weir, long time foreign correspondent in Moscow who is most closely associated with the Boston newspaper Christian Science Monitor.

I have several comments to add here to the discussion last night. But first I wish to share some impressions on my whereabouts, Dubai.  I arrived here a couple of days ago and like so many arrivals in Dubai, I am here on a brief rest period before moving on. I will be headed to Muscat and thence to the Seychelles.  Given my journalistic interests, what all of these stopping points have in common besides attractive warmth and sunshine in the midst of the European winter is a seasonal influx of Russians. By that I mean Russian tourists in all price categories, who are drawn here by the visa-free regime of the emirate and also by its transit status to the world at large.  In this sense, Dubai stands alongside Istanbul as the Russian gateway for international air travelers under conditions of the Europe-imposed air embargo on Russia.

We ran into a couple of Russian tourist groups at the entrance to one of Dubai’s better known souks, where their guides had deposited them for 40 minutes of shopping.  I hasten to add that the busloads of Russian tourists were much more fortunate in having professional Russian guides from their tour organizer who actually knew something about Dubai and who actually could communicate that to them in flawless Russian.  My wife and I were less fortunate to have been assigned by our hotel a “local” Pakistani driver-guide. His van was impeccable and he meant well, but his “special English” was unintelligible and his knowledge of the history and culture of Dubai was nil. Needless to say, we paid a hefty price for his services. But in Dubai, who counts money, after all?

At the end of the day, we did get a good impression of the distinctions between Old Dubai, dating back two hundred years but mostly built 60 to 40 years ago, and New Dubai which is an ongoing construction site. I take my hat off to the emirs and their advisers: new Dubai is fantastic, a kind of London City, Manhattan and Singapore rolled into one and set on the tip of Arabia. We made a brief visit to the justly famous Palm residential complex that is now being duplicated in a second “frond” that is set for release in 2027.

The Bollywood stars and top business executives who are the basic clientele will be spoiled for choice. Add to them the very wealthy Russians who are establishing residences here to compensate for their losses to confiscation in Greater London.

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Categories: Geopolitics

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