This scandal plays out the same week that Dubai is hosting a million dollar pro tennis tournament. Additionally, the Dubai Duty Free firm is actually the title sponsor of the entire women's tennis tour. (Who knew?) Back in the 1980's and 90's when the tour was sponsored by a cigarette company, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova battled week in and week out to win the Virginia Slims Cup. Today's top stars are vying to become the Dubai Duty Free champ.
One quick peek at the tournament website and you see that Dubai really is a premiere tourist destination. There are even tips for what to wear:
With its liberal attitude, there is not much that visitors to Dubai cannot wear. However, as in all countries, a healthy amount of respect for the local customs and sensibilities do not go amiss. Dubai is an Islamic state and dress should be modest, especially when visiting the traditional areas of the Emirate. Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but something slightly warmer may be needed in the evening for the winter months. In the evenings, restaurants and clubs usually have a mixture of styles, including Arabic, Asian and Western. During the day, good quality sunglasses, hats and sun-cream are definitely needed.Good to know the girls won't have to wear a birque out on the court.
Aparently a clever Sheikh realized that one day the petro-chemical dollars will be gone and decided to invest heavily in Dubai's tourist industry. And they spared no expense whatsoever. Amazing hotels, golf courses, and resort facilites are springing up all over Dubai.
There's men's tennis tournament in the U.A.E. as well. And a falcon hunt (!) plus golf and polo tournaments. Dubai is clearly going after the high-end dollar, euro and yen. For a country that seems to be pinning its economic destiny on tourism, it occurs to me that the United Arab Emirates just might be the very best agent for operating American ports. (Did I really just say that?)
Think about it for a minute: in the last 20 years, the U.A.E. has invested God-knows-how many billions transforming itself into a desert paradise, and in order to capitalize on that investment, tourists need continue to go there! Add to that another $6.8 billion for the port contract, and you see the vested interest that Dubai has in keeping our ports in outstanding working order. Clearly the U.A.E. has plenty at stake here as well.
The government of the United Arab Emirtates recognizes the finite nature of the country's oil reserves. That gave rise to large investments in tourism and shipping industries to shore up the country's financial future. The way I see it, Dubai has tons of built-in incentive to dutifully and properly perform their mandate with American ports. Frankly, the entire economic future of the U.A.E. might be jeopardized if there were a security breach at one of the ports in question. I believe no expense would be spared to avoid possible tragedy.
The plan to turn over U.S. port operations to a foreign government-run firm maybe represent a certain degree of political tone deafness of the part of our president. But from a security or business point of view, I believe this decision may be perfectly sound.
(Men's Dubai champ Andre Agassi plays tennis atop one of Dubai's luxury hotel.)