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Tue 20 Mar 2007 03:03 PM

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America's racist slurs

Arab business bashing in the United States is politically motivated racism.

Breaking news that Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, a Dubai government-owned aircraft maintenance and repair operation, is close to buying US assets in the same industry is another well-considered business move by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of DAE, as well as Emirates Airline and Dubai's Civil Aviation Authority.

Less well-considered has been the response by American Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who told the Financial Times that the potential purchase "raises security questions."

It is worth noting that Senator Shumer has a reputation for issuing sound bites that are designed to draw attention to himself more than to important issues.

Bob Dole, who ran for President in 1996, once quipped that "the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera."

But he does has influence, not least with Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, to whom he reports in New York.

It is also important to stress that the views of a media-hungry Democratic senator are not representative of the Republican White House.

While Senator Schumer was leading a campaign to stop Dubai Ports World taking control of six United States ports, President Bush was arguing - unsuccessfully - for the deal to proceed.

But Schumer's views are certain to get plenty of airtime in the run up to the Presidential elections, not least because they are proving popular on the campaign trail, and are therefore likely to be used by Hillary Clinton.

This is a far greater danger, because labeling every US investment by Arab businesses as some sort of threat to security is blatantly racist and will only serve to deepen divisions between the US and the Gulf.

I do not believe Hillary Clinton is any sort of anti-Arab racist. Bill Clinton was arguably the most pro-Arab president in the past 50 years, and Hillary's views broadly chime with her husband’s.

But in the race for the White House, dirty tricks will be used and Arab bashing through slur and innuendo looks likely to become a political sport.

But presidents need to be more presidential than that. Gulf Arabs have been partners in the war against terror for decades, and have intensified their efforts since 9/11.

Gulf businessmen are also astute, experienced and well funded - assets that the US economy can benefit from if politicians resist the temptation to meddle with sensible deals.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, just like Emirates Airline, is a global leader in its field, and its expertise should be welcomed with open arms by American politicians that have their citizens' best interests at heart.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online

martin keane 13 years ago

While what you say is highly relevant and a sad result of national introversion and world events, why is this article appearing as 'editorial'. What's the news angle, and where's the impartial judgement that doesnt sing exactly what your MiddleEastern readers want to hear? Sorry, but construction is a positive industrial process, slagging and slurring is pointless.

Chris J 13 years ago

It's time that the region realizes although its fun to have Bill Clinton as a speaker and Michael Jackson as a friend, Democrats are no true friends of Arabs. It is they who support all the things that Islam and Arab sensibilities say are wrong. Republicans may be tough on immigration and laws and people who step out of line, but they are reliable and logical--that's what Arabs need in an American administration

Pierre Lacour 13 years ago

Arabs from the Gulf or from anywhere wanting to buy US assets is of course considered as a major security problem and not as plain business. Whereas exporting bombs and coca cola to Iraq every day, that is global business. This proves once again that the US like to go global inasmuch as they remain the big boss...by all means.