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Tax Free in Dubai

March 19, 2004

From Dan Bowden

Is Dubai a Hoppean monarchical paradise? Not exactly, but (according to this Forbes piece) the Prince of this tiny Arabian country does seem to be managing his assets (which are basically the same as the government's) well. He's instituted a number of free-market programs which have helped the country become rich from industries other than oil.

This article from Forbes magazine also notes that nightclubs and bars coexist with synagoges and mosques, with nary a suicide bomber in sight. Oh the wonders of capitalism! Some quotes (registration required to read article):

"Dubai is a place of intriguing contrasts. Fewer than 15% of its 1 million residents are nationals; most of its immigrants hail from Pakistan, India, Iran, Egypt and other Arab nations.

Women in black burkas revealing only their eyes stroll on Sheikh Zayed Road past a line of sequined halter tops waiting to get into the smoky Zinc nightclub, where booze is served.

While muezzins call the faithful to prayer, you can hear bells ringing at the Catholic church.

Tourists with Israeli stamps in their passports breeze through customs.

"We want to be the one place in the world which offers the best option for everything--business opportunities, world-class sporting and entertainment events," says Mohammed."

"How did this castle in the sand arise? A century ago enterprising merchants turned to Dubai's tiny port to avoid taxes at the Persian port of Lingah. Fifty years later Dubai was a hapless British colony with a diminishing pearl trade and ship traffic. Mohammed's father, Sheikh Rashid, dredged and modernized the port. The Jebel Ali port is now the largest man-made harbor in the world and a tax-free zone. With fees from port traffic, he laid down the nation's first airstrip. Today Dubai International serves 105 airlines connecting 250 destinations. Tourism is 20% of GDP."

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