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[casi] No money for Iraq; "We're building Disneyland"

Judge the following two news items today: first one from Madrid, second one
from Dubai.
Arabs 'Balking' On Funds for Iraq
Saudis Seen as Reluctant to Take Lead
By Glenn Kessler and Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post
Friday, October 24, 2003

MADRID, Oct. 23 -- A push by the Bush administration to win big commitments
of funds from the Arab world to rebuild Iraq is being stymied by the
reluctance of Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Persian Gulf states to lead the
way with contributions, U.S. government sources said Thursday.
Even the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries hosting a two-day
donors' conference that opened here Thursday, has not yet signaled how much
it will provide, the sources said.

"Yes, they are balking," one U.S. official said of the Arab states, as the
American side continued to press hard for a breakthrough. Without Saudi
participation, he said, it would be difficult to create a "snowball effect"
among Arab donors. The Saudis are the " 'big brother' of the Gulf, [but]
they have not helped in a constructive fashion," the official said.

Of the Arab countries, only Kuwait so far has announced it will make a
substantial contribution, frustrating U.S. officials who want the conference
to show broad support in the Arab world for the U.S. effort in Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell acknowledged Wednesday en route to Madrid
that he had been working the phones and had given Arab governments "some
suggestion about what might be appropriate."
Saudi Arabia will not pledge grants to Iraq at the conference, a Saudi
diplomat said Thursday, but added, "we have not encouraged or discouraged"
other Persian Gulf states from contributing. He said Saudi Arabia already
provides humanitarian aid to Iraq and would be willing to consider
substantial loans in the future, but added that cash grants cannot be
considered while Iraq lacks a representative government and questions about
the country's crushing debt remain unsettled.   --WP

Middle East Online Oct 22 2003

Dubai to launch its own version of 'Disneyland'

Dubai is forging ahead with a five-billion dollar project aimed to give the
Middle East its own version of Disneylands wholesome family entertainment,
the latest mega scheme in an all-out push to double the number of tourists
visiting the Gulf emirate.

"It is based on Disneyland, but we are generating a lot of our own ideas
internally to present to investors for funding," Khaled al-Noaimi, project
capitalisation coordinator with Dubai Development and Investment Authority,
said Wednesday.

The "Dubailand" theme park will be built on a two billion square feet (185
million square meter) swathe of desert off the main road linking Dubai with
Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the seven-member United Arab Emirates
federation of which Dubai is part.

It will comprise 45 different developments with labels such as Aviation
World, Motor Racing World, Arabian Theme Park, Pharaohs Theme Park, Snow
World and Dinosaur World, according to Noaimi.

He said the estimated cost of the project is 18 billion dirhams (five
billion dollars) with the Dubai government already contributing 2.6 billion
dirhams (700 million dollars) for infrastructure work, while the remaining
amount will be raised from investors both inside and outside the UAE.

"Work has already started on the project" Noaimi said and the first phase
would be completed in 2006. But he would not provide further details.

Dubais Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum unveiled Dubailand
on Tuesday and urged investors to bring their money to Dubai because "they
can gain guaranteed returns on their investments instead of just hoarding
their money in safeboxes that will just rust and be of no use."

But the horse racing magnate who also serves as the UAEs defense minister
was quick to add that "Dubai actually does not need investors, but rather it
is investors that need Dubai, which is able to create for them the right
environment for growth and economic benefits."

Sheikh Mohammed, the driving force behind the massive development of the
emirate, said the project aims to attract 200,000 tourists daily.

Dubai currently boasts five million visitors a year for a population of one
million, but is targeting 10 million by 2007 and 40 million by 2015.

Dubailand is the latest in a string of high profile initiatives aimed at
catapulting the emirates position as a major business, trade and global
tourism destination.

In May, Dubai announced plans to build an exclusive artificial
two-billion-dollar residential island off its coast on top of three similar
off-shore developments.

Also rising from the sands are Dubai Marina, a 10-billion-dollar city to
house 100,000 people; a 1.6 billion-dollar Dubai Festival City and a 2.5
billion dollar airport expansion.

Sheikh Mohammed told reporters Tuesday that those who may doubt how far
Dubai will go "should not look at what we have achieved but what we will

The huge Burj Al-Arab suite hotel in the form of a sail built on a man-made
island and written off as a white elephant has become a worldwide symbol of
the prestige of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed has warned that the world has only seen 10 percent of his
vision to put the emirate on the world map.

"When I was a kid playing on the beach my friends wanted to build sand
castles, but I wanted to build on the sea and they would laugh at me. Today
I laugh when I accompany one of them to our sea developments.

"When the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids they did not imagine they
would remain standing for five thousand years...and when Da Vinci painted
the Mona Lisa he did not imagine it would become the most famous painting in
history," he said. --Arabia Online

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