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The United Arab Emirates — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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The United Arab Emirates

You should check out the official site and the Wikipedia site. They are real sweethearts.

Emirates and Emirs of the United Arab Emirates

  • Abu Dhabi – Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, since 2004
  • Ajman – Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, since 1981
  • Dubai – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, since 2006
  • Fujairah – Sheikh Hamad bin Muhammad Al Sharqi, since 1974
  • Ras Al Khaimah – Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, since 1948
  • Sharjah – Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, since 1987
  • Umm Al Quwain – Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmad Al Mualla, since 1981

These seven people are also the entire electorate of the UAE. Within their individual emirates they are total autocrats. The Emir of Abu Dhabi is always elected President, and the Emir of Dubai is always elected Vice President and Prime Minister. They are both from clans of the Bani Yas tribe.

The actual structure of the UAE hasn’t actually evolved to the level of feudalism, everything is based on family, clan, and tribal relations. While there are moves to allow people to own land in Dubai, in most of the Emirates the Emir owns everything.

The Emir of Dubai only makes about 6% of his income from oil, the rest comes from trade, including the largest, based on value, free trade zone in the world. They are interested in the flow of trade and interruptions for security or tracing stolen property would be an expense.

Under intense pressure the Emirates has stopped using child slaves for their camel races, but slavery is part of their culture. If you work in the Emirates you have to surrender your passport. The treatment of foreign workers would make Wal-Mart blush.

There is no immigration. If you are not born a member of one of the current families, you can never become a citizen. Citizens don’t normally work, because they don’t have to. Almost everything is free for citizens. Work is done by foreign labor, with the Palestinians, and other Arabs used as managers. Of the approximately 4,041,000 people in the Emirates in 2003, only a little over 20% [≅811,000] are citizens.

“Gifts” are certainly expected to operate in the Emirates, and a failure to be “polite” can result in expulsion on short notice.

If you deal with these seven men, you have no guarantees of anything. If the Emir of Dubai changes his mind, you have no recourse. If they decide not to honor an agreement, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can make a lot of money dealing with Dubai, but you have all the risk.

Corporations pay the Emirates a great deal of money to operate outside of the taxes and laws that afflict their competition. That’s what the “free trade zones” are all about.

Update: Keith at The Invisible Library tells us that the UAE has blocked that well-known threat to civilization Boing Boing.