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March 02, 2010

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The Dubai skyline was used as the capital of the Sino-American Alliance in "Firefly."

That's how weird that place is.

Downside: the government runs the slave market.

Upside: Russians run the black market.

Weird survival technique for white girls: Telling every Arab man you meet that your boyfriend/husband is a Russian businessman, and the catcalls and bullshit drop off really fast.

Why is their work visa system so messed up for the lower service classes (construction etc.)? The obvious reason is that it's convenient for segments of the ruling classes but I find that difficult to believe given that it really does appear to be an effective dictatorship even if the succession mechanism is unclear.

If I was trying to run their work visa system I'd just sell them and if you can't support yourself that'll pay for your ticket home. Actually if it includes the cost of your ticket to Dubai you've also just gotten rid of the scammers of visa agents.

Where do you see the political evolution of Dubai and the other emirates going (a) when substantial proportions of the population are multi-generational non-citizen residents (b) when the Arabian economy dries up and blows away when the oil runs out?

I've heard Dubai specifically and the UAE generally described as the lungs of Iran, giving Iran access to the trade and other economic flows it needs in order to survive. Is there any kind of a visible presence of Iran in the area?

Is there much worry about what might happen if Saudi Arabia erupts in civil war or otherwise collapses?

Peter

Peter; Saudi Arabia is at the bottom of possible problems for Dubai. First is probably Bahrain lurching into disaster or Iran's Green movemetn diecidign to flee over the Gulf.

-Randy; the Emirates are Iran's window on the world, more or less. Iranians go to the Emirates to experience things expressly forbidden back home; in domestic politics, visas and trade are used as a pressure valve in terms of trade goods and visas.

Israel, the US, and Iran have pretty substantial presences, both intelligence and trade.

Luke, steal my thunder, why don't you! Actually, I'll be getting around to Randy's question in a bit; the answer won't surprise you, but it is (I hope) pretty cool.

To add my voice to Luke's on Saudi: I haven't heard anyone mention instability there as a worry. And for good reason; Saudi security is pretty damn good.

I won't steal all of your thunder; but you should really watch the video of the Hamas assassination that came out the other day--it's eyepopping.

Saudi may have been in danger a couple of years if you wanted overheated analysis; if you go back to the 2005-2008 period, there's a good chance you'll find questions about the Shi'a Crescent plus al-Qaeda threatening the monarchy, but neither got past the irritant phase, and the Shi'a Crescent was far more blather than fact. The Saudi monarchy's intelligence services keep a leash on the army and on any sort of internal dissent that gets too dangerous--though sometimes too slowly.

To make things better, Abdullah is interested in accommodating himself to the reformist agenda as something of an Enlightened Despot, relieving lots of critical pressures, despite the attempts on the life of the interior minister.

More worrying will be what happens after Sunday's election and the departure of most of the American troops at the end of this year.

Luke, if you have cool pictures to go along with them, you are more than welcome to do a guest post or three on GCC politics, of which you know much more than me.

All of my cool pictures from the Gulf are not on this computer. They involve daughters or nieces of SE Asian PMs/MPs, Prada, and bourbon.

I do have some neat shots of Bahrain under CCL, though.

Ah, that Bloodhound Gang song. Do you think anyone has actually pulled off that strategem successfully? Metrosexuality doesn't count, and generally backfires anyway.

The guest post invite stands. All you need is a B&W headshot, some illustrations, and a willingness to tolerate my editing.

Ah, yes, that Bloodhound Gang song. I've got a passel of intensely sexy Lebanese Lady friends who encourage me to, well....it'd make all the straight boys jealous.

The only time I think the strategy has worked is in Rock Hudson movies, but it's so thickly layered that there's no way for that to really count.

as for the guest posts; sure, what exactly do you have in mind? Shoot me an email.

I've got plenty of headshots.

Regarding Iranian presence, when I was there in 2006, there were Iranians everywhere, huge piles of IRISL 40' containers on the docks, and I went to a club that was doing an Iranian house night

(early 90s Italo plus weird football terrace nationalist-sounding chanting, since you ask)

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