While corporate governance continues to be the hot topic ina region with a still-evolving corporate culture, it isinteresting to note that even the supposed arch-exponents ofthe practice sometimes fall foul of the standards theyimpose.
George Bush-appointed World Bank chief and noted neocon,Paul Wolfowitz, appears to have been a victim of a campaignto discredit him over the treatment of his girlfriend, alsoa senior World Bank member, who, to avoid a conflict ofinterest, was found a plumb job at the US State Department.Despite the hullabaloo, the ex-deputy Secretary of State ofDefense, appears to have acquitted himself honorably and Iam sure that many Arab politicians and high ranking figuresare still wondering what all the fuss was about.
But the case highlights two interesting issues: First itshows just how important it is to walk the line in terms ofpersonal conduct and setting an example to all. Second,after the deeply flawed Seymour Hersh feature in thenormally stringent New Yorker, in which he accused the Bushadministration in not doing its homework and funnelingmonies to groups with al Qaeda-esque profiles backed by theLebanese government of Fuad Seniora, it is yet anotherexample of the deep-seated level of anti-Bushfeeling in certain corners of the Americanestablishment.
Wolfie was, as they say in London, stitched-up, even thoughhe did his best to play the collision of his private andpublic life by the book.
The new Arabia
This month we also doff our caps to the tremendous stepsmade state-owned enterprises in Dubai in particular and theUAE in general in turning what could easily has been left asa flabby desert outpost, living off dwindling naturalresources, into a muscular trading giant, real estate tyroand tourist heaven.
Its bilateral economic ties with China and India are aclear indicator of Dubai’s intentions to become a globalplayer by seeking out alliances with 3 billion newcapitalists, while its real estate giants are already atwork in the dragon kingdom, exporting their particular, andspectacular, brand of development know-how. From being anexpat backwater as recently as the early 90s, Dubai hasbecome a genuine holiday destination—the third most popularwith UK travelers—and a global venue for blue chip sportingevents that attracts the biggest names and fattest purses onthe planet.
It proves that a lot can be achieved by micro-managing themacro-economy if there is a strong ruling class with avision.
One wonders what Adam Smith might say to such a plan.