Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Arab Summit

The Arab Summit, that's an oxymoron if I ever heard one. Arab and summit should never be used in the same sentence. Summit of what?
Let's tour the region, shall we?

Sudan hosted this event, unfortunately out of billions of rocks floating in space, not a single one happened to cross paths with Khartoum yesterday. How many families died in Darfur today?

Egypt is a democratic ally of the U.S. so everything is rosy as can be there.

Libya. I sent a Telex to inquire about Libya, I should get something back before the end of Qaddafi's term.

Algeria has known wacko "religious" killers long before Bin Laden's niece posed nude in Rolling Stone. They still are very well acquainted with them.

Tunisia has made the World Cup again. They are doing better than their neighbors, so we'll overlook their dictatorship.

On to Morocco, have you heard of the Sahrawis? Shhhh, they don't exist.

Mauritania, Ok, I'm not gonna pretend I know anything about it, but I have a hunch Mauritania is not what pushes the arab world over the top.

Yemen. Yeah right!

Kuwait. Again in much better shape than it's neighbors, so we'll skip it. Dear Kuwaiti government, if you want to $upport free $peech please hit the contact me link in my profile. Thank you.

UAE. Enjoy your wild college years because you're going to be paying for them for the rest of your life.

Saudi Arabia. Dr. Vic in 3 .... 2 .... 1 ....

Gaza Stripped. Freedom reigns. What more can you ask for?

Jordan has learned a few mukhabarati tricks from its northern neighbor, racist tricks from its western neighbor, and some wacko religious tricks from its southeastern neighbor. Trick or treat.

Syria went from a strong criminal dictator to a nincompoop criminal dictator, definitely not heading in the right direction.

Lebanon. Did you see our prez and prime minister go at it in Khartoum? We'll dub this round: Who da Man in Sudan.

Iraq. Ahhh, the only bright spot in the Arab world.


Mustapha said...

I wonder Jouj, how come you're so skeptical of the UAE?

They have their faults but why do you think their future will be gloomy? all indications on the ground are pointing otherwise.

I'm a big fan of Beirut myself, and it pains me that dubai is taking over, but we have to be realistic don't we?

Jamal said...

boustef- i guess, my thoughts are closer to the warren buffett "old school" of investments. Dubai today reminds me of the internet bubble of 90's.
You are already seeing signs of a major inflation problem on the horizon. Also, the large number of the work force is in it for the quick buck, they are neither encouraged nor want to stay there long term.(That's a whole can of worms)
Currently Dubai subsidizes many of the economy's pillars. They pay major corporations for relocating their regional HQs in Dubai, they have done that with many former Beirut-based companies. They cover Emirates Airlines (among other state owned businesses) losses. But how long can they afford to do that?
The way I see it, they took a major gamble, it might pay off, but I personally don't see it.

Mustapha said...

To tell you the truth, I've been mulling over moving to Dubai for work. In other words, I'm thinking of leaving our prosperous and large family business in Africa, just because i want to be part of what seems to me like a hugely ambitious undertaking. Dad is against this of course (citing the potential nuclear war America might have with Iran :) ), but it seems to make perfect economic and lifestyle sense to me (I didn't work in Beirut because of our bad economy although i would have gladly been there for half of what i make now).

It's funny you mentioned Emirates. The NYTimes just today wrote an article about it (it seems it is not subsidized as you seem to indicate).

In other words, If you really think Dubai is a bad idea, i'm curious to know more details, if you can provide some..

Many thanks..

bashir said...

The summit? I believe you just summed it...

JoseyWales said...

Listen to your Dad Steve,

Father knows best.

Brief analysis said...

Maybe you are just homesick for an Arabic speaking country. If I were you, I would stay where I am but make sure to visit Lebanon more often than maybe you do. That should take of the longing part, if I may call it that.

ghassan said...

An objective assessment of Dubai vs anything else in its region reveals the fact that it beats all by any metric that you can think of. This does not mean that Dubai does not have major challenges or that it is to become another Singapore. It only means that Dubai is a dynamic modern and vibrant economy that is attempting to diversify its economic base and become a major hub of commerce. The path to growth is never a simple one. They have committed many mistakes and they will commit some more but that is the only way to grow. There are no risk free methods and no guarantees. The Emirates is an astounding success so far. Last year it was either the second or maybe the third most profitable airline in the world. Dubai is also attempting to attract some major R&D especially in the biotechnology area and they have been able to get noticed in a number of world class events such as formula one. horse races, golf and tennis among other things. It is also important to note that they have also started to pay increasingly more attention to human capital

The biggest canard is to judge the real economy on the basis of the equity market. Economists always insist on a clear distinction between the real economy and the performance of the stoick markets. Actually the bubble in the GCC markets has been a source of angst for over a year. I happen to think that the markets will deflate. So what. That will not affect the ability of the country either to invest or to finance its future plans. A major market correction will be painful to some but in the final analysis it will bring rationality and reason to the markets. In hind sight it would be better not to have allowed the bubble to take hold in the first place but once it does take hold then it is better for it to burst rather than stay intact.

There will be lots of missteps taken by Dubai but for the forseeable future, measured in decades, it will be one of the most prosperous parts of the Middle East. Dubai does not lack for liquidity or infrastructure its major shortcoming is skilled human capital. Those who are in a position to provide these requisite skills will prosper. (I hope that you are one of them)

Jamal said...

Mustapha- Don't get me wrong, there will always be great business opportunities in Dubai. The Central and south asian markets have great potential. But the current bubble will burst (IMO a lot sooner than ghassan's estimate)and a lot of sectors will take a major hit. If you're gonna make a move like you're thinking, and thinking about making an investment there, i would advise you to be very careful what field you go into.

AJ said...

Ah ya abou-jooj very impressive like always