Daniel W. Drezner

That’s not change in the Gulf that we can believe in

Back in the day, it was thought that bustling Dubai would act as a guide for how the Gulf economies should liberalize in order to increase their economic growth. Dubai would not bring democratization, but cultural tolerance, transparency and cosmpolilitanism are pretty nice to have, and Dubai seemed to have more of these traits than ...

Back in the day, it was thought that bustling Dubai would act as a guide for how the Gulf economies should liberalize in order to increase their economic growth. Dubai would not bring democratization, but cultural tolerance, transparency and cosmpolilitanism are pretty nice to have, and Dubai seemed to have more of these traits than the rest of the Gulf. 

In the wake of the current downturn, Dubai is struggling along with the rest of the region. Unfortunately, Robert Worth reports in the NYT that the emirate’s response has not been in a liberal direction

Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.

Last month, local newspapers reported that Dubai was canceling 1,500 work visas every day, citing unnamed government officials. Asked about the number, Humaid bin Dimas, a spokesman for Dubai’s Labor Ministry, said he would not confirm or deny it and refused to comment further. Some say the true figure is much higher.

I seriously doubt that this tactic is going to improve Dubai’s economic health.   

The rest of the essay suggests that the emirate is in such desperate straits that it will be forced to go to Abu Dhabi — the more conservative and oil-rich emirate — for a bailout.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola