Need United Arab Emirates Information?

Dean Esmay has a post with some additional facts about the United Arab Emirates. In the comments his co-blogger Aziz Poonawalla uses the term “the Hong Kong of the Middle East”, and from what I’ve read in that post and elsewhere that seems to fit. It looks like the UAE realized that oil isn’t going to last forever and so decided to make their country’s business the place to do business in the Middle East.

Based on the CIA Factbook the UAE has a pretty open economy and looks like a country that wants to be an economic force in the 21st century. And according to the State Department, while not perfect in regards to human rights and freedoms, the UAE is probably far better than many Gulf states. Gateway Pundit points out that the seeds of democracy are taking root in the UAE.

All in all, I can’t help but think that people are a little hysterical over the port deal “scandal”.

Update: Also see the Politburo Diktat post by j.d. Here is an interesting quote from a link to a Time article.

Over 80 percent of the terminals in the Port of Los Angeles, for example — the biggest in the U.S. — are run by foreign-owned companies. U.S. ports are owned by state authorities, and the workers who actually offload the ships that dock there are the same unionized Americans who belong to the International Longshoremen’s Association, regardless of which company hires them. Dubai Ports will not “own” the U.S. facilities, but will inherit the P&O’s contracts to run them, with no changes in the dockside personnel or the U.S. government security operations that currently apply to them.–emphasis added

What I despise most about this issue is that the people opposed to the port deal are only presenting selective facts here. They ignore things like COSCO a company owned by the Communist Chinese government (you know that government that spies on this country and steals our top secret information), or APL which is a Singaporean company…hello, Singapore, Jemaah Islamiyah?

Jemaah Islamiya is a Southeast Asian terrorist network with links to al-Qaida. The network plotted in secrecy through the late 1990s, following the stated goal of creating an idealized Islamic state comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines, and southern Thailand….Several J.I. members have been jailed for the planning of the October 12, 2002, bombing that killed 202 people in Bali.

Anybody paying attention?

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Democracy, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. ken says:

    Steve, the issue is one of national security, not economics. No doubt an Arab monarch is just as capable of running a US port as would be a American commoner. But since the ports are considered soft target for terrorist attacks we need every advantage we can get in protecting them. If the Emerites as as good a friend to the US as many say they are then they will understand our concern and back off the purchase. It is not personal, it is just good national security policy to have the ports under US management.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Ken, then let’s ask the same question of all foreign companies that do business in our ports. Funny, nobody raise an eyebrow when P&O(British) and COSCO (China) got permission to operate terminals. Then I can’t help but to believe this is only being done because they’re Arabs.

  3. ken says:

    DC loser, by all means ask the question. I think that for national security purposes you will find that it is better that all these soft targets are operated by American companies.

  4. DC Loser says:

    So why only now we start asking the question?

  5. Mark says:

    We are asking the question now because an issue came up that appeals to people on an emotional level.

    Kerry tried to raise the issue during the campaign and it did not work out too well for him.

  6. johnkonop says:

    White House and Congress Trade Away American Security

    The United Arab Emirates ports management deal finally exposes our economic and trade policies for what they are: a government’s pursuit of money (for a select few) over the interests of most Americans.

    The ports management deal is not an isolated mistake. Far worse has happened, but perhaps nothing as nakedly blatant. For example, how does it benefit Americans when:

    Drug companies are allowed to write a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that keeps prices artificially high for seniors by forbidding government-negotiated prices based on volume?
    The American-funded Import/Export Bank subsidizes Chinese nuclear power development? Is it possible we are not sending enough money to Communist China?
    Congress has repeatedly neglected our national and economic security:

    The majority of our oil comes from abroad, much of that from countries with unstable, unfriendly populations
    The majority of our computer equipment is manufactured overseas
    The majority of our food in imported from foreign countries
    Over two-thirds of the products sold in major retailers is imported from countries like Communist China and Mexico
    Our soaring budget deficit leaves deeply indebted to foreign countries like Communist China, to whom we owe $1 trillion
    Illegal immigration is accepted—and legal immigration is abused—to secure cheap labor (exposing us to unknown security risks)
    Congress sees the results of these unhealthy dependencies (declining American wages, record trade and budget deficits, national security vulnerabilities) and just pours fuel on the fire. It passed CAFTA after NAFTA. It refused to crack down on widespread illegal Chinese trade practices by threatening to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    Most in Congress have demonstrated that they will not change course; they are simply too indebted to big-money campaign donors and lobbyists. We must replace them.

  7. Steve Verdon says:


    I’ll take you seriously and not as just some racist partisan twit when you start advocating for the revocation of COSCO’s & APL’s contracts for U.S. ports. After all COSCO is a chinese company and APL is a Singaporean company. China is one of the leading nations that spies on and steals U.S. technology. And Singapore has a presence by Jamaal Islamiyah, a terrorist organization with ties to Al Qa’ida and Abu Sayyaf.

    We are asking the question now because an issue came up that appeals to people on an emotional level.

    Translation: brown people like other brown people that are scary.

    Emotionalism is not conducive to rational thought processes. When was the last time you saw somebody who was emotional about something making cogent arguments, smart decisions, and presenting evidence. Typical emotionally motivated people are actors and look at how they argue about issues. Generally in a piss poor manner that depends on name calling, innuendo, and almost no facts.

    Seems to fit the people opposed to the port deal. They seem to leave out important facts like that the UAE seems to be moving towards becoming a major economic force in the Middle East and the rest of the world. That they are investing here and elsewhere…only so they can destroy those investments? Sure. Makes sense to me.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    The majority of our food in imported from foreign countries

    I’m calling bullshit on this one. Prove it, or retract it.

    Our soaring budget deficit leaves deeply indebted to foreign countries like Communist China, to whom we owe $1 trillion

    I’m calling bullshit on this one too. Again, put up some evidence supporting this, or kindly STFD and STFU.

  9. Brian says:

    Hey, if all of you will take notice, almost NONE of the US ports are under US management. Also, just because a foreign company runs the ports does NOT mean that they run security; that task is left up to US law enforcement and the Coast Guard. Thus I think everybody needs to take a deep breath and stop making a brouhaha about absolutely nothing.

  10. ken says:

    Here are the facts:

    1) Ports are very soft targets for terrorists attacks.

    2) We need all the advantage we can get in protecting our ports

    3) An American company will be more ‘vested’ in the security issue than will be any foriegn company.

    4) This is not an economic issue, nor is it directed at any of our friends and allies. It is a security issue. A real ally will understand our concern for security and not get all huffy if we prohibit foriegn ownership of certain items of infrastructure.

    5) After an attack takes place it is too late to make amends to the dead and to their families.

  11. Mark says:

    Translation: brown people like other brown people that are scary.

    I have no idea what this means.

    Anyway, if you don’t like my guess as to why it has become a huge issue, what do you think the reason is? Why are people on both the right and left talking about it?

  12. Rick DeMent says:

    The UAE, like every other Arab nation in the middle east, also has government ties to Al-Qaeda that are as, if not more compelling then the ties between Saddam and Al-Qaeda.

    Now I’m not saying this to suggest that this deal should not go though, I’m saying it to highlight just how weak the ties between Saddam and Al-Qaeda were that propelled un into war.

    In other words on country we invade, another country we give port deals.

    It just like the idea of sanctions, the only country on the planet where conservatives thinks sanctions do any good is apparently Cuba where they have been in place for most of my lifetime. But I guess we just need to give them more time right?

  13. Steve Verdon says:


    Even if what you say is true, this still leaves unanswered the following questions:

    1. Why now?
    2. Why will these changes you advocate make things safer?

    The first one undercuts your general position and the second is one you and everybody else on your side has left unanswered. Why will having Halliburton vs. Dubai Ports Worldwide or whatever run the loading and unloading of containers in the port with the exact same employees, the exact same security be any different?

    I have no idea what this means.

    I think there is an element of racism/jingoism here.

    Anyway, if you donÂ’t like my guess as to why it has become a huge issue, what do you think the reason is? Why are people on both the right and left talking about it?

    You misunderstand, I think you are right. People are upset about this because it struck an emotional nerve and thus an emotional response vs. a reasoned and rational response. I have yet to see any evidence of how security would be improved having an American company doing these things.

  14. Steve Verdon says:

    In other words on country we invade, another country we give port deals.

    Technically true, but more than a tad simplistic to the point of almost being misleading.

  15. ken says:

    1. Why now?
    2. Why will these changes you advocate make things safer?

    1) As I’ve said before, it is never too late to do the right thing.

    2) Yes. With American companies running the ports, which we all agree are soft targets for terrorism, they have something else besides the profit motive to incent them. They also have a personal vested interest in the security issue.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that a foreign firm, especially one owned by a state that we are philosophically opposed to, would be more easily infiltrated by terrorists wishing to do us great harm.

  16. G A PHILLIPS says:

    Ken, if you want to do the right thing, stop being a liberal, It’s never to late.

  17. LJD says:

    This story emphasizes basics facts we have known for a while:

    1.) No one group is MORE racist than Democrats.

    2.) Leave it up to the MSM to ‘investigate’ a story, and miss every single pertinent question, to make room for needless reactionary emotional nonsense.

    3.) Our government (under ANY administration) cannot protect us, and has repeatedly proven the point. You better find a good place to live, with all the provisions necessary to support your own family.

    4.) Americans love to bitch about “outsourcing” and foregin trade, but are too lazy to be competitive, and too cheap to stop buying foreign crap at Wal-Mart.

    5.) Ken is a brainwashed idiot.

    There it is.

  18. Herb says:


    Kin could never be a “brainwashed” idiot.

    He first would have to have a brain and that is not a paty of Kens anatomy.

    The fact that he is an idiot speaks to that fact.

  19. Ben There says:


    Our resident leftie is merely bleating back the propaganda he has ingested on his way to the discussion. As a nation we are just as philosophically opposed to Red China as to the Dubai government.

    I look on the attack by the MSM and the Democrats as another attempt to discredit the President and his adminstration. With a glaring lack of
    any substantive platform, plans or organized thought processes the alternative for the Democrat Party is to attack and attack ad nauseum.

  20. Steve Verdon says:


    I don’t see your “other than the profit motive to incent them” arguement? Firms that we are talking about are global in nature and I contend that they notion of profit is pretty much the only motivating factor even for an American company. Especially since security isn’t the companies concern they will likely do nothing about it since it would adversely affect profits.

    Your case relies, quite literally, on your feelings and nothing more.

    As for the U.A.E., while it isn’t a duplicate of the U.S. or even European countries in the Middle East based on all that I’ve read it is probably one of the most liberal muslim countries and they appear to be moving more and more in that direction. This is something we want to encourage, not discourage.

  21. ken says:

    I don’t see your “other than the profit motive to incent them” arguement?

    In the absract all companies are equally motivated by profit. In so far as that is true the nationality of the company makes no difference. But we are not talking about the profit issue but the security issue.

    Companies are composed of people. It is a fact, Steve, one borne out by the nature of people themselves and well known in the security business, that a persons background can have an influence on his loyalties. Since ports are such a soft target we need all the advantage we can get in protecting them. We do not need to make it any harder on our security people by having companies in charge of the ports where the concern is that terrorists could easily infiltrate. Take that risk off the table, or drastically reduce it, by having American firms, owned and run by Americans in charge of the ports.

  22. LJD says:

    Does it even bother you Ken, in the slightest amount, that you are applying your “wisdom” to something that you haven’t got the foggiest idea about?

    I will chalenge you to do some research about the company, their roles and responsibilities, hiring practices, etc. and then point out where security might be breached.

    From the comment you just made, it sounds like you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.