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Friday, 22 July 2011

The Making of an Emirate - Summer Journey 2011 - TIME

No one who has visited Dubai would be surprised that some crafty property developer has devoted an entire mall to the great Ibn Battuta. Its hallways may be lined with the H&M shops and food courts familiar to any New Jersey mall rat, but the complex has been designed in the spirit of Ibn Battuta's historic travels, or so its managers tell us. In the China hall, a life-size model of a square-sailed Chinese junk hovers over a babbling fountain outside the multiplex. The India section boasts an ornately decorated fake elephant. A few steps away, an exhibition educates shoppers about the explorer's achievements. Panels detail his exploits along his long journey, and an abacus and other paraphernalia of his time sit in plastic cases. In the middle is a Starbucks. Is this any way to honor the most famous of Muslim explorers?


Actually, it is. The mall may be tacky, but it is also a symbol of the Islamic world's quest to reclaim the economic grandeur it had in Ibn Battuta's age. The display by the Starbucks reminds us of the wealth the Arab lands possessed when he traveled through them. A century after the explorer's death, however, the Muslims' economic power began to wane, Europe came to dominate the global economy and the Islamic world never closed the gap.

Arab nationalists are quick to blame European colonialism for holding the region back, but that's a symptom of economic decline, not the cause. Others have pointed fingers at Islam's prohibition of usury, which, critics claim, hampered the development of modern finance. It doesn't fly. Muhammad was a merchant, and he chose Mecca, a city enriched by the caravan trade, to be the spiritual center for his new faith. For centuries, Islamic countries were every bit as economically progressive as Christian Europe.



Emirates’ Dubai World Central move targeted for 2025

Expansion to continue at existing facility to cater for flag carrier's growth ahead of move to city's new international airport

Dubai International airport will remain home for Emirates for a further 15 years, as infrastructure developments will extend its capacity by 20% to 90 million passengers. By then, the new mega-airport at Jebel Ali will be ready to absorb the Dubai flag carrier's transition in one go.

That is the outline development plan for the city state's two international hubs, which Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths says has been devised after a review of all the stakeholders' expansion needs. This succeeds the earlier plan that envisaged a much faster ramp-up of Jebel Ali (or Dubai World Central - DWC), with Emirates set to move there from the middle of this decade.


Worried Syrians withdraw bank deposits - FT.com

Continuing protests are intensifying pressure on the Syrian economy, as new figures show nearly 10 per cent of deposits in the country’s banking system were withdrawn during the first four months of 2011.

The equivalent of $2.6bn was withdrawn between January and April this year, according to figures released by the Syrian Central Bank earlier this week.

Bankers in Lebanon say rumours of capital flight out of Syria in to the Lebanese banking system are exaggerated, although some admit recent patterns in deposit growth in Lebanon could suggest some relationship with the situation in Syria.

Saudi's Other Crisis - Zawya ht @alifarabia

Forget Arab Spring. If Saudi Arabia's spending patterns and economic policies don't change, it could be staring at a breakeven oil price of an astonishing $320 a barrel by 2030, says Jadwa.

With $562-billion in net foreign asset, the second largest oil reserves in the world after Venezuela (according to the latest Opec bulletin), and the second largest oil output in the world after Russia - Saudi Arabia's future looks rosy and solid.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia has been able to soothe internal tensions and even manage external ones by tapping into its vast reserves thanks to a copious flow of funds streaming through its coffers as oil prices remain in triple figures.