Tuesday, February 21, 2006

UAE/ports debates rage in US... yawns elsewhere

Mata Musing

Following the initial fu-fer-rah by the media and Congress once they caught up to the old news of the P&O merger with DP World, some voices are finally coming thru wthh a more cautious and realistic approach.

Catching some of the talking heads on the news, I was surprised to find Brit Hume toned down his initial "this will not go happen" attitude, and started looking more in depth. The same with O'Reilly and Obermann... who'da thunk you'd see those two names in the same sentence. One of my personal voices of reason, Tony Snow, was verbally innundated with protests from his listeners yesterday. And of course, Rush is adding is how brand of rationale.

AJ Strata at The Strata-Sphere has had his hands full with the emotionally charged posters. His link to The Financial Times, Ltd's article "Paranoia about Dubai ports deal is needless" supports my continued attitude that the US is the only country up in arms about the deal.

The current furore in Washington about the takeover of P&O, the UK-based ports operator, by Dubai Ports World says more about the United States Congress than the United Arab Emirates. The bluster about national security conceals one of the uglier faces of US protectionism - the one with the slightly racist tinge.


But some western governments and international companies - while benefiting from the boom in Dubai and the UAE - tend to be either patronising or paranoid. Either Dubai's success is overreach and financial levitation, or murky and in hock to sinister Arab aims. Being the Singapore of the Gulf is not the same as being Singapore.


First, the deal has been vetted by an inter-agency committee. And ports, in any case, are in one of the most highly regulated sectors in the US. What matters is how they are managed, not who owns them.

Second, leading Dubai companies such as DP World bring with them certain advantages. They habitually: spend money to make money; headhunt the best professionals (in DP World that includes top Americans); and produce high rates of growth. The ambitious new $15bn aerospace enterprise Dubai announced this week will be built around that formula.

Third, the honourable senators might get this purchase in perspective by pondering the extent to which the Gulf allies they so distrust already own vast quantities of US assets, as well as dollar assets held offshore. For Abu Dhabi alone, a 1 percentage point move in US interest rates now means more than a $10 per barrel swing in the price of oil. Do the math.

Europe has already picked up on the anti-Islam/Arab attitude displayed by US Congress and media. Not good, folks. More of the same on the racial overtones, with quotes from Arab American leaders here.

In the meantime,
The Counterterrorism Blog takes a non-committal attitude on the sale with a more indepth history of DP World which I read when doing my initial research, but didn't include on my own postings. Instead of being impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit, Victor Comras conveys skepticism in DPW's ability to handle the fast growth.

snip....Nevertheless, security experts in both the UK and US remain dubious. They question the wisdom of turning over control of so many major ports around the world, and particularly in the US, UK and Europe to this relatively new UAE based company. DP World’s senior management, they point out, draws mostly from a small circle of UAE nationals close to UAE’s traditional rulers.

Hummmm... is that an unnamed sideswipe at David Sanborn? Guilty by association? And interesting about the UK comment... don't see their media and lawmakers on this story.

This "relatively new" company grew quickly by locking up the rapidly growing Chinese trade. And thus far, have successfully managed the company to enable such growth with success - something the free world should celebrate from a part of the world trying to disentangle itself from the third world attitudes of fundamental Islam. As far as handling the newly acquired asset from the the P&O merger, DP World is
keeps the P&O staff, employees and offices, and is, in fact part and parcel of the offer to purchase.

DP World regards the management and employees of P&O as key to the ongoing success of the combined entity. DP World confirms that following The Scheme (Mata note... their term for the offer to purchase) becoming effective, the existing employment rights of all P&O employees will be fully safeguarded.

In short? The faces and names remain the same at the ports, but the paychecks will have a different signature. They are not liquidating, and restaffing.

Also prevalent thru the Counterterrorism Blog post is a suggestion that such rapid growth contains sinister overtones. Yet the incredible Dubai hub and Middle east port growth is a stable ratio. From
The Khaleej Times Online from June 2005...

Dubai has established itself as important axis in the world of freight and crucial centre for this fast growing industry in the Middle East.

According to the bulletin issued by Daina Liners, International specialized Publication, Dubai ports have advanced from 11th position in the previous classification of 2003, to the 10th position in 2004. The bulletin also showed that Dubai ports came third in terms of growth rates at 25 per cent.


The UAE domainates 35 per cent of the volume of the urgent parcels market in the Gulf region. But a comprehensive look to the freight sector in the Arab world reveals that it is characterized with good and stable growth ratios. Looking at the present ratios, it is evident that the volume of goods shipped from Europe to the Middle East counts at 15,000 tons daily while from the Middle East to Europe in the tune of 700 tones daily representing 1 per cent of the international ratio.

Remember capitalism? Where there is a need, an entrepreneur provides. And UAE is jumping into western capitalism with both feet.

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