May 2010


The new Casablanca: Why Dubai draws Iran, intrigue, and tusk smugglers

Indeed, with so many Iranians in Dubai, US consular officials here regularly pump that large pool for information or recruit them to spy, says Jim Krane, author of a recent book about Dubai.

Many countries have active intelligence operations here in this open and strategic spot, he says. “There are so many reasons to be in Dubai … business, tourism, and conferences, that it’s easy for spies to maintain ‘plausible deniability.’ ”

Israel’s Mossad is widely believed to have sent dozens of agents to Dubai to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas operative, though Dubai’s tough-talking police chief made clear that such a brazen attack was a step too far. After a quick and impressive investigation, his department secured international arrest warrants for some two dozen suspects from abroad.

Dubai has also drawn praise for its “swift and extensive” cooperation in cracking down on terrorism financing after the US Congress’s 9/11 com­mis­sion found that most of the funds for the 2001 attacks were funneled through the city. Suspected terrorism activity was “dealt with expeditiously” and punished, said the FATF.

As for the crackdown on illicit trade with Iran, it’s unclear how much the authorities are making a dent – particularly for state-backed companies. US officials say they may be fighting a long battle and that they hope to persuade Dubai to crack down harder or risk its international reputation.

Yet even if the emirate were to sacrifice its breezy business climate, illegal traders would just go elsewhere, says Prof. Jean-François Seznec at Georgetown University in Washington, a Gulf specialist.

Dubai follows a long line of entrepôts where smugglers and money launderers gather, he points out, arguing that “there’s always a market for this kind of free trade.”

This is Oscar. She was born to a prince in a palace in what used to be the bucolic sprawl of Zabeel. Dubai has grown, and with it has grown the highways, the gas stations, the condo’s and the malls. And so the prices palace was infringed upon, but how he had loved Oscar! The proud falcon desert owl — the great night hunter — those orange eyes piercing the night sky!

and so Oscar was given to the desert, and in the desert it was discover that oscar was a female, but enough time had passed that no one wants to change her name.

She is happy now, and no one can be sure of the prince who gave her up. She is fed by hand and lives in air conditioning. most of the time she watches TV and in the mornings, as the sun rises, she goes for a little fly around the empty quarter.


None of the refineries in the UAE are certified to supply gold to London, the largest centre for over-the-counter (OTC) gold transactions in the world, even as the country, and Dubai in particular, emerged as the largest re-export centre for the metal in the world.

It is mandatory that bullion bars made by refineries be certified by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and, therefore, belong to the LBMA Good Delivery list to be allowed into London’s gold markets.

Refiners and traders in Dubai, wanting to supply gold to London, therefore, have their gold ‘re-refined’ in refineries located outside the UAE – mostly in South Africa – thus eroding their margins as the price they finally receive in London is dictated by the prevailing global gold prices.

“Having our gold re-refined usually costs us an extra $1 (Dh3.67) to $1.25 per ounce. It’s certainly troublesome that none of the refineries in the UAE have a certification to supply gold to London,”
The LBMA Good Delivery set of rules requires an applicant refinery to have operated for at least five years and have an annual turnover of at least 10 tonnes. Besides laying down a number of technical specifications for gold, the LBMA also reserves the right to make short inspectional visits to the refineries. Several refineries based outside the UAE have lost their LBMA good delivery status because of failing to meet the required specifications.

Next Page »