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Mon 14 Jan 2008 01:12 PM

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Bush leaves Dubai for Saudi Arabia

Sheikh Mohammed sees off US president as he heads to Riyadh to meet with kingdom's King Abdullah.

US president George W. Bush was on route to Riyadh on Monday evening after a tour of Dubai that bought the UAE's second city to a standstill.

He was seen-off at the Dubai International Airport by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Abu Dhabi crown prince and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Dubai was given an unexpected public holiday as its main roads were shut down to allow Bush to tour the city in his motorcade.

Among his stops was the world's only hotel to claim seven stars for luxury, the Burj Al Arab. He met with young Arab business leaders including local law firm owner Habib Al Mulla, Najla al-Awadhi, vice-president of Dubai Media, and May Nasrallah, head of Morgan Stanley's investment banking division for the Middle East.

The president also visited Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House, the ancestral home of Sheikh Mohammed, and the Dubai School of Government at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

On Sunday, Bush gave his keynote speech of his Middle East tour in Abu Dhabi, in which he accused Iran of being the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, as well as praising the UAE as a model Muslim state.

Prior to his speech, Bush met with UAE leaders including Sheikh Mohammed and UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss bilateral relations and developments in the region.

The UAE was the third stop on Bush's whirlwind visit to the GCC. The tour, which includes stops in Israel, Palestine, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, ends on January 16.

In Saudi Arabia, Bush will meet King Abdullah to bolster support for US initiatives concerning Iran, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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