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Sunday, July 26, 2009

After Hosni? Dubai Woes, Saudi Mess

THE question of Hosni Mubarak’s succession is once again cropping up with increasing regularity as whispers of the president’s ill-health spread. It was widely rumoured that, shocked by the death of his favourite grandson from illness in May, Mr Mubarak had a mild stroke. He was not seen in public for a week. When he reappeared, he looked frailer. When Barack Obama came to Cairo a fortnight later to deliver his momentous speech to the Muslim world, Egypt’s 81-year-old president failed to turn up. More recently, however, he has made an effort to appear at carefully orchestrated public outings. This week he was hobnobbing with President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. Egypt after Hosni Mubarak

The two buzz words in Dubai’s business and media circles are “denial” and “bail-out”. A persistent complaint is that the authorities—in particular, the ruling family of Dubai and its acolytes, led by Sheikh Muhammad—took far too long to recognise the gravity of the crisis when it broke in September. “They were splashing about in the water when they should have been swimming across the channel,” says another Western banker. In October Nakheel was still parading grandiose development schemes. It was not until January that Sheikh Muhammad summoned Dubai’s top businessmen and ministers to take stock and plan a recovery. For months the Maktoums seemed to be in denial. Trouble in the United Arab Emirates - The perils of autocracy [thanks AC]

SINCE the attacks on New York’s twin towers in 2001, “the Saudi authorities have imposed a range of counter-terrorism measures that have worsened what was already a dire human-rights situation.” So says Amnesty International, a London-based human-rights lobby. Its latest report follows an official Saudi announcement earlier this month that 330 people had been convicted on charges of terrorism, with sentences ranging from fines to (in one case) death by beheading, with just seven defendants acquitted; of those convicted, 42 would never be freed without “repenting” before a judge. Some 660 people are still in the dock, undergoing a trial that began in March. Another 2,000-plus are reckoned to be behind bars; when or whether they will be tried is not yet clear. Detainees in Saudi Arabia - An awful lot


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