Where Else Might It Work?

David Ignatius reports on an Arab success story:

Dubai’s prosperity is about free trade. Foreign companies are allowed to operate tax-free and without trade barriers or foreign-exchange controls. This wide-open market has produced a roaring boom, in which Dubai’s non-oil sector now produces more than 90 percent of its gross domestic product. An “Internet City” has attracted such giants as Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and IBM; a “Media City” has drawn Reuters, Sony and CNN.

Part of what makes Dubai and Abu Dhabi feel different is that they are influenced almost as much by India, to the east, as by the Arab world. The technology boom in India has spread to the large Indian expatriate community here. “I doubt you could go anywhere else in this part of the world and find Indians and Pakistanis driving Rolls-Royces,” says Nahayan.

The culture of change breaks the old political reflexes. Nahayan, for example, says he hopes the United States will succeed in Iraq. “We are lucky they came,” he says. “Otherwise, we would have Saddam [Hussein] and his sons and his grandsons.”


A little freedom, a little trade, and a little openness to outsiders. It’s a powerful combination — it works here, and it looks like it’s working in Dubai.


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