For the first time in my life, I came across an unusual and unexpected question from an American journalist, which was, “why have the Arab media and in particular the media of Dubai ignored the conflict between Dubai and the United States about who will control the American ports?” I assured the journalist that there was no official request to the media to conceal this issue. The disregard for this matter however, can be attributed to one simple reason that is that the people of Dubai are preoccupied by matters other than politics such as development projects, financial projects and the stock market.
Dubai’s success in administering ports is nothing new for the country. In the past
it has operated ports in the Persian gulf and the Red Sea. Dubai also owns the British Peninsula and oriental Steam Navigation Company otherwise known as P&O. P&O is a British shipping and logistics company that administers a number of major international ports including six in the USA. It is for this reason that when Dubai appealed to takeover, there were a number of objections due to the concern of Arabs and security in dealing with American seaports.
Oppositionists can be categorized along three levels. There are the financial competitors who are out for profit and that Arab participation would weaken this. The second category is that which consists of those who play a political game through the competition of parties. Finally, there is the fearful group that believes that safety should be guaranteed by internal American authorities regardless of international trade agreements or the operational agreements of the deal.
In this regards, President Bush has shown understanding in his position as he refused the pressures that were exerted upon him and the attempts to scare him for security reasons or repeated claims that he is on good terms with Arab governments and what an accusation that is as Arabs accuse him of being submissive to the extremist, Christian right-wing, whilst other accuse him and his family of being pro-Arab. The American president had been decisive enough to curb those who rejected this business deal in Congress.
Back to the issue of the American correspondent who visited Dubai to follow up the business deal that had been under the spotlight of American media during the past few days. She was somewhat amazed that such “big” Business deal did not appear as a main story in various Arab publications. I simply highlighted for her that politics and wars are what make the front-page news in Arab journals. As for medicine, arts, economics and sports news, these feature in the final pages. If President Bush had rejected the deal or voted against it, then this news item would have appeared on the front page and would even have been the main issue for local writers to tackle. I told her that in Arab countries and the United States, the viewpoint is quite similar. It is only when the issue is one of public controversy, where two parties will defy one another and throw accusations thus causing the issue to become one of public concern and front-page news. Fortunately, however, the people of Dubai are quite concerned with their own private lives and matters, their accomplishments and their future aspirations, away from politics and games of parties.
If Dubai had won the administration of the six ports, then it deserved to do so. If it had not, then it simply would have spared itself the allegations of violating security.