Dubai is no longer a play-thing of Israel

Maher Mughrabi writes in the Age that the Jewish state seriously mis-calcuated over its Dubai hit:

If it was Israel that assassinated the Hamas man, then perhaps it counted on Dubai’s long-standing desire to avoid controversy. So what has changed in the past year?

The answer may be that Brand Dubai itself is under intense scrutiny. With growing concerns at the size of its debt — put by the IMF at $US109 billion ($A121 billion) and counting — and at the treatment of its investors, the emirate’s financial advisers have counselled it to go for greater openness, a process that began with the unprecedented public announcement of a detailed budget for 2009.

Having also positioned itself as a tourism and major events destination, the city sets a lot of store by visitors feeling secure. Dubai academic Theodore Karasik’s recent insistence that “security forces in the UAE … are able to mitigate and break up foreign nationals who come here with another agenda” sounded like a man closing the barn door after the horse had bolted. But, as with the debt problem, perhaps the emirate’s rulers have decided the best course is to control speculation rather than be dragged along by it.