View Full Version : Article: Bridging the Bloodshed Gulf

Transition Layer
27th Jun 2005, 08:31
Depicting the Arab world as dominated by terrorism is an outdated cliche writes Paul Sheehan.

The price of oil has never been higher, the Middle East has never been more important and volatile, so it's a good time to take a fresh look at this source of so much friction. And a good place to start is with the Wallabies.

When the Australian rugby team plays its Test matches, the most conspicuous word emblazoned across the front of the players' jerseys is the team's principal sponsor. The name changes. It is currently Qantas. They will be the Qantas Wallabies until the World Cup in 2007. Thus two of corporate Australia's prized icons, the Wallabies and the flying kangaroo, happily co-exist as one product.

Yet the road to this comfortable outcome was tortuous. Someone else was willing to pay much more for the right to put a name across those gold jerseys. That someone was Emirates, the airline from the distant boom town of Dubai. Emirates is smaller than Qantas but it has deep pockets. It sponsors the Emirates Melbourne Cup. It sponsored the English Premier League champions, Chelsea, but is now switching to an even bigger franchise, Arsenal, in a sponsorship deal worth $180 million. When Arsenal's new 60,000-seat stadium opens next year, it will bear the name Emirates Stadium.

Emirates does not muck around. It has been growing exponentially for 20 years and plans to continue doing so, much to the consternation of Qantas and most of the world's other major airlines. And it recently announced a record annual profit of $920 million for the 2004-05 financial year.

When it came to the Wallabies, Emirates blew Qantas out of the water. Give or take several technicalities, this was the choice: Emirates offered $5 million a year for three years to 2007. Qantas countered with $3.3 million a year to 2007 - $5 million less than Emirates.

And the Australian Rugby Union chose Qantas. Offered a choice between the most glamorous domestic brand in Australia, and the name of an Arab oil-state run by sheiks, the rugby union played it safe. So it's the Qantas Wallabies, not the Emirates Wallabies.

One can reasonably assume that what hurt Emirates was the undertow of misgivings in opinion about anything coming out of the Gulf, not surprising given the public has been offered tunnel vision for years. When it comes to the Middle East, we remain locked in a malignant cliche, a vision of the region and its peoples as seething and dysfunctional, divided between Islamic fundamentalists and those who fear them. Blood and terror is the dominant news story from the Gulf.

It's a gulf alright. While the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait, Afghanistan and, most spectacularly, Iraq, grapple with fundamental change, the Western narrative fixates on the worst of the worst - West Bank, Gaza, Sunni triangle, mad mullahs, the Taliban, and the psychotics hiding behind the green flag of Islamic jihad.

I've just spent a week in the Gulf, in Dubai and Oman, and it was an eye-popping experience. Oman, probably the best-run state in the Arab world, remains almost completely invisible to Australian eyes. A visitor to Dubai gets a first-hand look at prodigious ambition, fuelled by prodigious capital flows. Much of the money flowing to Dubai would once have been parked or invested in the United States or Europe but now flows into a neo-Manhattan rising improbably out of the Arabian desert.

Dozens of major projects are going up simultaneously, including the tallest building in the world, in an investment boom that has lasted 20 years with no signs of slowdown. Now, for the first time since the money river from oil was created in the Middle East, Arab states are building a sector outside the oil industry that can challenge on the global stage. Which brings us back to Emirates.

The global game is about to get tougher. Emirates, together with two new Gulf carriers modelling themselves on Emirates (Qatar Airways, based in Qatar, and Etihad, based in Abu Dhabi), have between them placed a massive order for the biggest airliner ever designed, the double-decker behemoth known as the Airbus A380. Emirates has ordered 45. By way of contrast, Qantas, which is much bigger than Emirates, has ordered 10. Geoff Dixon, the chief executive of Qantas, simply cannot see how Emirates is going to fill all those giant A380s. He is far from alone.

But Emirates is not just an airline. It is the embodiment of Dubai. It is an extension of the state. It personifies the vaulting ambitions of the hereditary rulers of Dubai, the Maktoum family, headed by Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. The Maktoum family holds the controlling interest in Emirates.

The chairman of Emirates is Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, who also happens to be the president of the Department of Civil Aviation. This cosy arrangement is a source of dark humour to Dixon. So is its tax policy. Emirates pays no company tax in Dubai. There is also no personal income tax in Dubai. It has lower labour costs. Dubai has a population of 1.1 million, but less than 20 per cent are Emirates. About 70 per cent of the population are Indian.

As a privately owned, state-sponsored carrier, it represents "sovereign risk", the highest quality debt-rating, which lowers borrowing costs. It also pays only modest dividends, its owners preferring that excess cash be ploughed back into growth. Dubai also has the great benefit of geography, positioned midway between Asia and Europe. It projects itself as a global airline hub.

Dubai is thus building itself a post-oil future, a modern post-industrial economy. It is a good news story, one of many in the Middle East. We've got to stop ignoring them.

27th Jun 2005, 08:43
well said, but it will take at least another 5 years before the great unwashed masses start to trickle back to the mid-east, the damage done by US foreign policy will incur another 5 year wait, but for US citizens who like to loudly announce their prescence, its unlikely to be safe anywhere in the middle east for about 20 years.

not entirely a bad thing for those of us who wish to re-discover the place in the future.

current rates for my chosen "pimp" profession come in around 3-4 times the rate in OZ, ballpark 2/3K a day, unfortunately most of the work is in Saud , but if dubai/oman came up, i'd do it in a wink.

29th Jun 2005, 07:47


We don't want anyone to know about it here...keeps the tourists away!!:E (or at elast in Dubai where they belong)

29th Jun 2005, 09:01
Thanks for that TL. An interesting read and no doubt, the truth...

29th Jun 2005, 15:01
What a load of drivel.

Positive sentiments no doubt influenced by an Emirates sponsored Business Class ticket to Dubai, a nice hotel and exaggerrated Arabian hospitality.

30th Jun 2005, 06:59

post again when you have some idea about which you speak...:yuk:

But then I suppose the view from Eden Valley is a little different from looking out my window.:mad:

30th Jun 2005, 23:57
Transition Layer.

Sounds to me like Mr Sheehan has had his palm grafted by what is affectionately known as "backsish" in the middle east.

Would you rather see the "Emirates Wallabies" ????
How insulting.

And before you espouse the wonderments and virtues of Emirates, recently it was rumoured heavily that a large number of Check Airmen at EK decided to resign in a large group.
The Sheik running the meeting took their resignation slips and smuggly advised them that after the papers were processed that they would be promptly jailed for Industrial Sabotage, which group or mass resignation is considered!
Talk about a police state!!!!

The group withdrew their resignations and have been resigning in dribs and drabs ever since.

Transition Layer, EK is having trouble recruiting as in a few recent courses of an intake of 12 pilots, 4 did not even show up in one and almost half I believe never even showed for the other.

As an uncle of mine that lives in the Emirates fondly advises me regularly that expats there are second-class citizens in a third world country with no rights.
Just have a motor accident with one of the nationals and see just what they think you are worth and how you are treated.

Get jailed (even mistakenly) and see just how they treat outsiders.

And everyone in the Emirates wonders why this supposed Arab nation that panders to the extreme wealthy tastes of the much hated westerners is not targeted by muslim extremists and terrorists?

Rumour is that it costs alot of money paid to terrorist organisations to keep them and their Saudi brethren away.

Really makes you wonder.

1st Jul 2005, 00:14
Diving Duck.

Just what desert are you from??
Recently had drinks with a freighter pilot in HK thats ex EK.
If even half of what he said is true I wouldnt work there in a pink fit and wouldnt have my family within koo-ee.
Other mates in EK (and senior) just aint happy campers at all and are basically stuck there unless they want to start at the bottom of the scrap heap elsewhere.

Industrially in the desert you have no rights.
Hell,even the Chinese treat us better than your Arab masters, although I really dig those "I Dream of Jeannie" outfits!

1st Jul 2005, 02:19
Mr Sheehan as usual gets it right.

And if you think he is a soft touch, it is clear that you have not been following his writings.

He nails his credentials in so far as commentary on multicultural affairs fairly firmly to the mast in his "Amongst the Barbarians" and he is not referring to our "new" Australians.

I am certainly not an expert in these areas but I would be suprised if their cultural and hospitality traditions have changed much since the 7th Century. It was respected then and dealt with so through the centuries, notwithstanding the odd diversion by the religious fundamentalists on both sides of the Islamic and Christian fence. That fence was not always there and I suspect
tha Christians may well have built it..

Doesn't matter how they got there, they are here, they were smart enough to get the right western management plugged into the London City and other major financial centres.

And if I was Mr Dixon I too would be having nightmares we/Qantas is a big fish in the Oz pond but a minnow elsewhere. Though perhaps I would be concentrating more on bringing the fight on product standard to them rather than hoping that Ozzers will fly QF out of some form of patriotism.

My next door neighbour runs a fleet of limo's, they are flat out picking up/dropping off J class pax from Emirates and Malaysian.

Last time I flew QF J class I had to hump my bax to and from terminal to the taxi rank queue.

Beer Can Dreaming
1st Jul 2005, 06:09
Is this the same Paul Sheehan that was slammed by Media Watch for promoting a product that was the subject of a Coronial Enquiry at the time but failed to mention that simple fact????

Is this the same twit that has taken "leave of absence" from the Sydney Morning Herald???

Just do a search on this guy...........less than flattering responses and criticism.
Great to see he's taking a leaf out of the book of John Laws and Alan Jones no less.

1st Jul 2005, 06:30
Ahhha !! A 'Unique' destination then:}

Transition Layer
1st Jul 2005, 09:00

I posted this article merely as an attempt to provide a bit of stimulus for a discussion here on pprune given the recent talks of EK/SQ making further inroads in the Australian market. I hope you didn't interpret it as though I actually supported this, as that is far from the truth.

Would you rather see the "Emirates Wallabies" ????

Absolutely not! I am extremely proud that my favourite sporting team is sponsered by Qantas.

IMHO it was an interesting article and thought provoking for all of us in the aviation industry.


1st Jul 2005, 09:04

You obviously take Arab bread to react so strongly; as I suspect the author of the article does too.

1st Jul 2005, 12:18

to the east of the Rub al Khali in Oman.

I don't work in Dubai (heavens be praised) or for EK (ditto).

As TL said, this place is a lovely place to visit, live and work, great to raise the kids etc etc.
That snipe by Gnad about Arab hospitality, is, unfortunately typical of the misinformed or ignorant. It is very much part of their culture and religion to be hospitable and they take it very seriously.
They will provide food and drink for you as a guest, even if it means they go hungry...I have experienced this very thing several times. No matter how poor or rich they are, the welcome is the same.
The further you get from the major cities, the more welcoming the people become.

Gnadenburg...personally I don't care a toss whether you believe me or not, I will stand by my statement though.
I don't have to be here, I can leave if I feel like it. I enjoy the lifestyle, the culture, the people and the place.
I am not a second class citizen, the laws are exactly the same here whether you are black, white, brindle, Muslim, Christian, or Jedi Knight. It says so loud and clear in the laws, and they do actually follow this, hard as it may be for some to believe.
Whether that is the same in the UAE I cannot say, but it certainly is the case for Oman.

2nd Jul 2005, 03:03
Transition Layer.

Sorry if I took your posting the wrong way and thanks for putting me straight.

Mr Sheehan's articles have come under alot of fire and criticism for both their accuracy and content

To open an article about the Wallabies and then start talking about the Wallabies is typical of his diatribe which has put him under such scrutiny and probably explains his enforced "gardening leave" from the SMH.



6th Jul 2005, 06:01
There was nothing inaccurate or unreasonable in what Mr Sheehan had to say about Dubai and Emirates.
It is highly likely that his stay was sponsored one way or another by the bosses there, but that isn't all that unusual in commercial activities anywhere in the world to garner a bit of extra publicity.
Mr Dixon's observations on the lack of personal and company tax as virtual subsidies are also valid.
What I continue to find interesting is the ostrich approach by QF to the very real threat that SQ and EK pose. I don't think sticking your fingers in your ears and closing your eyes is going to make them go away. Given that, why don't they try and compete head on with them?