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Julianne Greco

For a Bounced Check in Dubai, the Penalty Can Be Years in Jail - - 0 views

  • For more than a year, prosecutors have been cracking down on the corruption and kickbacks that thrived during the boom years in this Persian Gulf city-state
  • But alongside the con artists and crooks, a rising number of businesspeople have been sent to jail for going into debt. Bouncing a check is a criminal offense here. That fact has begun raising questions about the fairness of Dubai’s laws, especially among the foreigners who make up about 90 percent of the population.
  • he criminalization of debt has put a formidable weapon in the hands of landlords, banks and other creditors, who can send someone to jail with a single document showing a check has been returned for insufficient funds. It has also complicated Dubai’s efforts to recover from the financial crisis by sending many legitimate but struggling businesspeople to jail, where they find it even harder to repay their debts.
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  • many expatriates to flee when they are in financial trouble rather than filing for bankruptcy and setting out a repayment schedule
  • Some financial analysts say the risk of arrest for debt could also drive away potential new investors and businesspeople as Dubai struggles to recover from the current economic slump.
  • The root of the problem, analysts say, is that Dubai’s legal structures have not kept pace with its frenetic development
  • Dubai’s laws are largely based on Egyptian civil law and Islamic law, or Shariah, with no real effort to encompass the tremendous volume of its commerce.
  • Some efforts have been made to change the system, though analysts worry that they may fade as the economic crisis recedes.
    It's alarming how easy it is to commit a criminal offense. It is not hard to get debt or accumulate it in the business world, especially when the economy is not as good, so it's really not surprising that this could collapse Dubai's economy with the now minimal inclinations for businesses to take risks and low incentives for foreign investment.
Ed Webb

Britain Summons Israeli Envoy in Dubai Murder Inquiry - - 1 views

  • Britain and Ireland called on the Israeli ambassadors to their countries on Thursday to explain what they knew about the use last month of false British and Irish passports by the suspected assassins of a leading figure of Hamas in Dubai. France also said it was demanding an explanation from the Israeli Embassy in Paris about the use of a false French passport, suggesting that the diplomatic fallout from the incident was widening.
Ed Webb

Qatar World Cup set to be major windfall for tourist-ready Dubai | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • With little investment the UAE, and in particular Dubai, stands to gain if, as expected, supporters opt to stay in the tourism hotspot instead of tiny Gulf neighbour Qatar during the November-December tournament.
  • Dubai's more permissive environment - including a wider availability of alcohol - could entice fans
  • Budget airline flydubai will run at least 30 return flights a day to Doha, just an hour away, part of a daily airlift of 160 shuttle services from cities in the resource-rich Gulf.
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  • Any economic windfall, and reflected glory from the first World Cup on Arab soil, will come less than two years after Doha and the UAE were at odds over a regional blockade that isolated Qatar from its neighbours.
  • The UAE is also offering multiple-entry visas at the nominal fee of 100 dirhams ($27) to people with tickets for World Cup matches.
  • One Dubai hotel, on the man-made, frond-shaped Palm island, will be given over entirely to football fans.
  • Shuttle flights will also run from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman to relieve pressure on accommodation in Doha, a city of 2.4 million. But "relative to other Gulf states, Dubai does hold an advantage with its standing as a major tourist destination already",
Morgan Mintz

Debt in Dubai Tests Laws Of Islamic Financing - - 0 views

  • The debt crisis in Dubai is about to test one of the fastest-growing areas in banking, Islamic finance, and put the city-state’s opaque judicial system on trial, according to bankers and experts in finance.
  • because there have been few major defaults in this market, there is little precedent for arbitrating the unique terms of these instruments.
  • Shariah-compliant investments prohibit lenders from earning interest, and effectively place lenders and borrowers into a form of partnership. Yet there are no consistent rules about who gets repaid first if a company defaults on such debt
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  • bondholders could insist on being repaid before banks, upending the traditional bankruptcy hierarchy.
  • A default would also pose a major new test for Dubai’s courts, which have never handled a major bankruptcy of one of the government’s own companies, lawyers and bankers said.
Ed Webb

The Arab Alliance Is a Circular Firing Squad - Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • Several of the region’s most pressing crises can be traced directly to the Trump summit, from the blockade of Qatar, which began two years ago this week, to the explosion of Libya’s “third civil war” in April. Far from collectively achieving its goals, the Saudi-led bloc forged two years ago has mostly just set itself back—and its members are increasingly turning against each other
  • Disagreement has also been growing within the countries in the Saudi-led bloc. Dubai, for instance, believes its economy has been directly hurt by the aggressive regional approach pursued by fellow emirate Abu Dhabi. Historically, Dubai’s priority has been to encourage tourism, trade, and foreign investment, while steering clear of regional conflicts. The persistent war in Yemen, the blockade of Qatar, and the internal security restrictions imposed across the United Arab Emirates by the increasingly dominant Abu Dhabi were bad for Dubai’s business. Experts estimate that Dubai loses $5 billion a year in trade with and shipping to and from Qatar, before even accounting for tourism, other trade activities, and losses incurred by the airline Emirates as a result of having to avoid Qatari airspace. “The effects of the Gulf crisis have been felt most severely in Dubai,” said Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at King’s College London. “Dubai might be economically hurting the most from the crisis, far more than Qatar.”
  • In the case of Bahrain, many view its boycott of Qatar as mere subordination to Saudi will, rather than as reflecting grievances of its own. Bahrain is one of the countries most affected by the blockade, in terms of trade, tourism and investment, and some officials, such as the prime minister, were not on board with the move.
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  • the lack of belief in Saudi Arabia’s would-be leadership
Ed Webb

US tech firm turns Dubai desert air into bottled water - Arabianbusiness - 0 views

  • Instead of drilling wells or purifying seawater, it will wring moisture from the air to create bottled water at a plant 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Dubai
  • Zero Mass Water, will use renewable energy instead of the fossil fuels that power the many desalination facilities in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates
  • The bottling plant is run on solar, the bottles we use are recyclable and the caps are sustainable,” said Samiullah Khan, general manager at IBV, an Emirati firm that will buy the water. The caps will be made from bamboo
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  • Zero Mass isn’t going to rival bulk water processors any time soon. It will initially only be able to produce up to 2.3 million litres annually - about the volume of a typical Olympic swimming pool. The technology is still much more expensive than desalination for the same output of water. So Zero Mass’s will be in the same bracket as imported, high-end brands such as Evian and Fiji
  • The rectangular boxes - measuring around 2.4 meters (8 feet) by 1.2 meters - absorb water vapour and extract it using solar energy. Although they can operate almost anywhere the sun shines, Dubai’s hot and humid climate makes the emirate a prime location, according to Cody Friesen, founder of Zero Mass
  • The panels have dust filters and use a chemical compound that only captures water molecules, ensuring the water is purified even when the air is polluted.
  • Gulf nations want to reduce their heavy dependence on food imports, especially with the coronavirus pandemic disrupting global supply chains. This month the UAE imported 4,500 dairy cows from Uruguay to boost milk production. It’s also trying to farm rice locally, the success of which will largely depend on using sustainable amounts of water.
  • Water-from-air is only suitable for farming in enclosed environments such as warehouses
  • “With hydroponics, it’s a huge advantage to be using very pure water to begin with,” said Wahlgren. “If you’re using desalinated water, there’s still quite a large salt component, which can be harmful to the plants.”
Julianne Greco

BBC News - Dubai jails Indian pair for 'sexy texts' - 0 views

  • Steamy text messages have resulted in a three-month jail sentence for an Indian man and an Indian woman in Dubai.
  • Judges ruled that they had planned to "commit sin", a reference to an extramarital affair - which is illegal in the United Arab Emirates.
Julianne Greco

Dubai clean-up drive nets cars - The National Newspaper - 0 views

  • DUBAI // Nearly 40 abandoned vehicles caked in dust were towed away in the first two days of a municipality-led clean-up that has targeted everything from washing machines to furniture.The vehicles were seized as “a symbolic gesture to drive home the message of a clean and green city”, Hassan Makki, the director of waste management, said yesterday.
  • The local campaign runs later than in the rest of the world because of Dubai’s weather conditions. Mr Makki said it was aimed at raising awareness about the significance of environmental protection.
Ed Webb

In Istanbul and Dubai, Russians pile into property to shelter from sanctions | Reuters - 0 views

  • Wealthy Russians are pouring money into real estate in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, seeking a financial haven in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions, according to many property companies.
  • "We sell seven to eight units to Russians every day," said Gul Gul, co-founder of the Golden Sign real estate company in Istanbul. "They buy in cash, they open bank accounts in Turkey or they bring gold."
  • While Turkey and the UAE have criticised the Russian offensive, Ankara opposes non-U.N. sanctions on Russia and both countries have relatively good ties with Moscow and still operate direct flights, potentially offering routes out for Russians and their cash.
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  • Russians have been big buyers of Turkish property for years, behind Iranians and Iraqis, yet the real estate players said there had been a spike in demand in recent weeks.
  • Ibrahim Babacan, whose company in Istanbul builds and sells real estate mainly for foreign buyers in Turkey, said in the past many Russians had wanted to live in resorts such as the Mediterranean Antalya region. Now they were buying apartments in Istanbul to invest their money.
  • Both Turkey and the United Arab Emirates offer residency incentives for property buyers. In Turkey foreigners who pay $250,000 for a property and keep it for three years can get a Turkish passport. For a slightly smaller sum Dubai, a major Middle East business hub, offers a three-year residency visa.
  • "Investors are looking for both capital protection and the opportunity to receive a residential visa in the UAE for temporary relocation," said Elena Milishenkova of real estate brokerage Tranio, based in Moscow and Berlin, which has a focus on Russian clients buying property overseas.
  • Some newly arrived Russians in Turkey have struggled to make deposits and transfers at banks that are wary of contravening sanctions
  • The UAE issued guidelines to banks last year to tighten procedures identifying suspicious transactions in an attempt to stem illicit financial flows. That did not stop the country, like Turkey, being added to a list of countries monitored by the FATF global financial crime watchdog.
  • Caldas and Alex Cihanoglu, a realtor also based in Turkey's largest city, said some Russians were using cash converted from cryptocurrency, now that sanctions had made financial transfers more complex."I would say most of the transactions that we're seeing are in crypto," Caldas added. "Crypto, especially for this market now, in the difficulties they're facing, is the channel that is being used."
Michael Fisher

Dubai Sovereign Fund Asks for Time to Reorganize Debts - - 0 views

    The bursting bubble...
Ed Webb

Briton imprisoned in UAE since May 'on suspicion of spying' | World news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • a PhD student accused of being a spy
  • The man is a Durham university PhD student named Matthew Hedges, according to the Times. The 31-year-old has been held in solitary confinement since he was detained at Dubai airport in May as he tried to leave the country following a research trip
  • was studying Emirati security policies after the Arab spring and was aware of the risks as he had lived in Dubai when he was younger.
Ed Webb

GCC crisis, one year on: What's the impact on Gulf economies? | GCC | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • A year ago, the four Arab states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a full land, sea and air blockade on Qatar.  Since then, the richest country in the world per person, was forced to tap into its sovereign wealth fund and do everything it could to shore up its economy, banking system and currency.
  • Ayham Kamel, head of MENA at global risk consultancy Eurasia Group, talks to Counting the Cost.
  • I think one year after the beginning of the Qatar crisis with the other GCC members, the economy is not crashing and Qatar seems to have adjusted to what is a very challenging situation.
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  • on the diplomatic front, we've seen an effort to engage with alternative powers - not only the US, but broadly to establish new trade links, try to cement those. So you have Qatar not really in an isolated position internationally, and that's a function of both, the importance of the gas reserves and gas exports, but also the financial cushion that Qatar has through its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority
  • when it comes to the UAE and Dubai specifically, some of the repercussions have been more serious or more tangible. Be it financial transactions being shifted from Dubai to London or New York where Qatar has been involved, so there's a loss of business volumes there. And certainly when it comes to Jebel Ali and the exports through Jebel Ali, that have now been rerouted to Oman. So, we've seen a bit more of an impact there
Ed Webb

Hacking Group Claims N.S.A. Infiltrated Mideast Banking System - The New York Times - 0 views

  • evidence that the N.S.A. had infiltrated the backbone of the Middle East’s banking infrastructure.
  • Among the leaks on Friday was an extensive list of PowerPoint and Excel documents that, if authentic, indicate that the N.S.A. has successfully infiltrated EastNets, a company based in Dubai that helps to manage transactions in the international bank messaging system called Swift.
  • The latest leaks suggest that, by hacking EastNets, the N.S.A. may have successfully hacked, or at minimum targeted, computers inside some of the biggest banks in the Middle East, including ones in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Kuwait; Qatar; Syria; Yemen; and the Palestinian territories.
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  • On Friday, EastNets denied that it had been hacked. In a statement, the company said its Swift service bureau runs on a separate secure network that cannot be reached over the public internet. The company said the leaked documents that claimed its computers had been compromised referred to an old server that the bureau had retired in 2013.“While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in any way,” Hazem Mulhim, EastNets’ chief executive, said in the statement.
  • Among those listed as having been successfully “implanted,” or infected with spyware, are Noor Bank, Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, Al Quds Bank for Development and Investment, Arcapita Bank and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
Ed Webb

Right-Wing Media Outlets Duped by a Middle East Propaganda Campaign - 0 views

  • Badani is part of a network of at least 19 fake personas that has spent the past year placing more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications. The articles heaped praise on the United Arab Emirates and advocated for a tougher approach to Qatar, Turkey, Iran and its proxy groups in Iraq and Lebanon. 
  • “This vast influence operation highlights the ease with which malicious actors can exploit the identity of real people, dupe international news outlets, and have propaganda of unknown provenance legitimized through reputable media,” Marc Owen Jones, an assistant professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar who first noticed suspicious posts by members of the network, told The Daily Beast. “It’s not just fake news we need to be wary of, but fake journalists.”
  • They’re critical of Qatar and, in particular, its state-funded news outlet Al Jazeera. They’re no big fans of Turkey’s role backing one of the factions in Libya’s civil war
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  • a series of shared behavioral patterns. The personas identified by The Daily Beast were generally contributors to two linked sites, The Arab Eye and Persia Now; had Twitter accounts created in March or April 2020; presented themselves as political consultants and freelance journalists mostly based in European capitals; lied about their academic or professional credentials in phony LinkedIn accounts; used fake or stolen avatars manipulated to defeat reverse image searches; and linked to or amplified each others’ work. 
  • In February, two websites, The Arab Eye and Persia Now, were registered on the same day and began to acquire a host of contributors. 
  • both sites share the same Google Analytics account, are hosted at the same IP address, and are linked through a series of shared encryption certificates
  • Persia Now lists a non-existent London mailing address and an unanswered phone number on its contact form. The apparent editors of the outlets, Sharif O'Neill and Taimur Hall, have virtually no online footprints or records in journalism.
  • placed articles critical of Qatar and supportive of tougher sanctions on Iran in conservative North American outlets like Human Events and conservative writer Andy Ngo’s The Post Millennial, as well as Israeli and Middle Eastern newspapers like The Jerusalem Post and Al Arabiya, and Asian newspapers like the South China Morning Post.
  • constant editorial lines like arguing for more sanctions on Iran or using international leverage to weaken Iran’s proxy groups in Lebanon and Iraq. The personas are also big fans of the United Arab Emirates and have heaped praise on the Gulf nation for its “exemplary resilience” to the COVID-19 pandemic, its “strong diplomatic ties” to the European Union, and supposedly supporting gender equality through the Expo 2020 in Dubai.
  • criticizing Facebook for its decision to appoint Tawakkol Karman, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to its oversight board. Media outlets in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates have criicized the appointment of Karman, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islah Party in Yemen, for her association with the group.
  • None of the Twitter accounts associated with the network ever passed more than a few dozen followers, but a few still managed to garner high profile endorsements for their work. An article by “Joyce Toledano” in Human Events about how Qatar is “destabilizing the Middle East” got a shout-out from Students for Trump co-founder Ryan Fournier’s nearly million-follower Twitter account and French senator Nathalie Goulet high-fived Lin Nguyen’s broadside about Facebook and Tawakkol Karman.
  • All of the stolen avatars were mirror image reversed and cropped from their originals, making them difficult to find through common Google reverse image searches
  • On her LinkedIn page, “Salma Mohamed” claimed to be a former reporter for the AP based in London, though no public record of an AP journalist matching Salma Mohamed’s description is available.
  • Another persona, Amani Shahan, described herself in bios for Global Villages and Persia Now as being a contributor to and “ghostwriting articles” for The Daily Beast. No one by that name has ever written for The Daily Beast and The Daily Beast does not employ ghostwriters. (Shahan also referred to herself with both male and female pronouns in different author bios.) 
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