Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Michael Yon's back in action and posting from Dubai

Yes, that horrible place that we refused to let operate some of our ports. But Michael paints a very different picture of Dubai than those who were so vehemently opposed to the DP World ports deal.

Here in Dubai, the people of the United Arab Emirates benefit immensely from the vision of leaders. Few countries can make the same claim. The UAE police are un-menacingly armed with nightsticks and whistles. Months ago, I spent hours talking with a UAE policeman who said he had a Ph.D. from the United States I believed him; he spoke English better than most Dutch speak English, and most Dutch seem to speak English better than most Americans. (No exaggeration intended)

I asked the policeman if he had a gun, and he laughed, saying he didn’t like guns. “Why do I need a gun?” he chuckled. “Besides, it’s heavy.” He was Sunni; the same sect that many people think is evil, because of the civil war in Iraq. This world is too big for sweeping anthropological judgments.

Policemen without a gun? To me it's inconceivable that a country can be that docile that their police don't need weapons more capable of lethal force. He also recounts conversations with some of Dubai's many foreign workers, Indians, Pakistanis, Sudanese, Philipino, and Thai, who all speak glowingly of the people of the UAE. How accepting they are. How kind and pleasant they are. Michael notes some estimates say 80% of the UAE population is foreign born. One Indian taxi driver painted a stark picture as a foreigner who had worked in both Saudi Arabia and now Dubai. All he could say about Saudi Arabia was how badly he had been treated there versus how wonderfully he has been treated in UAE.

All of this is very different from the picture that many US officials kept hammering on when Dubia Ports World was in a position to acquire control of some US ports. They were a gateway for terrorists and posed a huge security threat. I'm sure Dubai has it's problems, but I'm inclined to believe those problems are no worse than the ones faced by the British company that was selling control of those ports, or the Chinese who also currently manage some of our ports.

We missed an oppurtunity to solidify relations with a kindred spirit in the Middle East. Hopefully they give us another chance.