UAE An oasis of stability in troubled Middle East
DUBAI DIARY BY DR. JAVID IQBAL
United Arab Emirates (UAE) has tranquility written all over it--an oasis of stability in troubled Middle East. It is palpable on stroll through urban malls, on highways interlinking the emirates, seven sisters as they are called. A drive from west coast emirate of Abu Dhabi (67, 340 sq. km) the UAE capital to Dubai (4,110 sq. km) the commercial center, on to Sharjah (2600 sq. km) is a lesson in urban planning and communication . Still on the west coast three comparatively smaller emirates, Ras-al-Khaimah (1700 sq. km) Umm-al-Quwain (750 sq. km) and Ajman (259 sq. km) to varying extent remain in sync with developmental activities of major emirates. An hour’s drive from west coast emirates towards the east opens up sparkling Fujairah (1450 sq. km).
While the Middle East remains engulfed in conflict, Dubai organizes peace marches. Friday, 6th April witnessed a huge peace rally where ‘Emiratis’ (UAE nationals) were joined by citizens of many nations residing in Dubai. Expatriates form approximately two thirds of total population (about 8 million) though it floats. It was organized to build up momentum for Dubai International Peace Convention (DIPC) by Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Award for Peace at Al Manar Centre from 12th to 14th April. Sheikh Rashid Al-Maktoum, father of present ruler of Dubai…Sheikh Mohammad together with Sheikh Zayad Al-Nayhan Abu Dubai’s deceased ruler envisioned the formation of the UAE and convinced the rulers of other emirates of the benefits of such a union. To that extent, the formation of the UAE was one of the positive fall-outs of the erstwhile Trucial states. The peace rally, prelude to DIPC (to be attended by likes of Imam Kabbah and Islamic scholar-Dr. Zakir Naik) was far from being a symbolic gesture. The UAE means and breathes peace, it enjoys thriving on it. The realization of the dream needs peace to preserve its fruit and sustain it.
UAE—the federation has Sheikhs (rulers with sovereign rights within their principalities) who form the ‘Supreme Ruling Council’. Abu Dubai being the major Sheikhdom holds the ‘Presidency’ while Sheikh of Dubai remains the ‘Vice President and Prime Minister’. While Abu Dubai is the political nerve center, federal offices are spread all over the emirates. Sheikdoms do whatever they may in relation to the development of infrastructure and other similar developments -- the constitution does not seek to limit ruler’s authority in this regard. However the federal offices provide the look of a working federation. Without constitutional constraints it works in practice and that has several reasons.
Abu Dhabi being the major oil source (export of 2.3 million barrels/day) pools in the majority of the resources for federal agencies enabling smaller emirates to thrive and be a part of massive developmental effort. Second the founding fathers of the federation—Sheikh Zayad and Sheikh Rashid were visionaries. They never allowed smaller egoistic concerns otherwise bane of eastern rulers, come in the way of bigger dreams. Third, though federation is in no way a republic, Sheikhdoms have nevertheless a tribal democracy of sorts that works. It is related that an ‘Emirati’ once addressed his ruler without dignity and decorum, but the ruler never took umbrage and instead disarmed the complainant with a sweet smile. Voicing of citizens concerns in ‘Majalis’ (plural of Majlis…a consultative session) is common. The concern if genuine is redressed. Fourth, inter-marriages amongst ruling families of Sheikhdoms help to sustain the federation.
UAE’s tranquility has substrata of concern. It concerns the strategists, the geopolitical planners. ‘Gulf of Hormuz’ the vital artery that feeds the high seas carrying oil tankers from Gulf States remains the jigsaw puzzle. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain constitute Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). GCC is seeking the muscle to sustain geopolitical equilibrium. The effort is collective though individual measures are not off the table.
There is a lot of strategic diversification going on that takes into account short and long-term developmental aspects, not excluding a few apprehensions. Fujairah, the east coast emirate with a deep water port has attracted a lot of attention in the recent past. It is emerging as one of the important oil storage terminals in the world. A trans-emirate 360 kilometer crude oil pipeline connects Habshan in Abu Dhabi with Fujairah. As Dubai did earlier to accommodate real estate, Fujairah has reclaimed a substantial area from the sea to accommodate emerging oil storage terminals and an oil refinery. Fujairah facilitates smooth marine access to major international marine routes. A reasonable insurance premium is saved given that in this region oil tanker insurance premium is latitude dependent, including avoidance of navigation through the vulnerable Strait-of-Hormuz.
These alternatives could be a boom to UAE economy collectively and make Fujairah a more important player in ‘TEAM UAE’
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi (Reunion is subordinate to survival)
Feedback on: Iqbal.email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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