Wednesday, October 25, 2006

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Diamond interdependence in the Middle East

In the interest of posting some good news about the Middle East, I found this AP story about the diamond trade between Israel and Dubai to be pretty interesting:

As Israelis and Arabs emerge from the war in Lebanon, a booming diamond exchange in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE,) 1,300 miles away, is hard proof that some Arab-Israeli ties have survived despite the region's tensions.

The two-year-old Dubai Diamond Exchange has put the Gulf emirate squarely inside a global business dominated by Jewish traders. And that, inevitably, means trade ties with Israel, another world diamond hub.

"There has been no visible platform for Arab-Jewish cooperation since the 1960s," said Chantal Abboud, Beirut-based representative of Antwerp's diamond industry in the Middle East. "Now, Dubai has created it."

Israeli Diamond Exchange president Avi Paz says diamonds and hospitality flow freely between Israel and Dubai.

"We came there, they came here. There is no problem at all," Paz said in Tel Aviv. "I wish that wherever I go, they'll host me like they hosted me in Dubai."....

The 34-day summer war in Lebanon, between Hezbollah and Israel, dulled sales in Dubai's diamond markets but only temporarily, industry officials say.

"People don't mix conflict with business. The war will not affect the diamond trade in any lasting way," said Abboud.

The relationship was highlighted in March, when controversy arose over Dubai Ports World assuming the management of ports in the United States. At the time the chairman of Israel's merchant fleet told U.S. senators that his ships called often at DP World-owned ports in Dubai and worldwide, and faced no problems.

The Dubai Diamond Exchange, the Arab world's first diamond bourse, seeks to serve the largely untapped but diamond-hungry Gulf market, the world's third largest for diamond jewelry, traders say.

So far, the exchange's tax-free transactions have coaxed more than 250 diamond dealers to become members, including Jewish-Americans, Belgians, Indians -- even Israelis with dual nationality, said Noora Jamsheer, the exchange's chief executive.

"Dubai is quickly growing to become a very important center for diamonds," Ernest Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, said by phone from Jerusalem.

The good Arab-Jewish vibes extend across the Atlantic. In June, The largely Jewish New York Diamond Dealers Club on Manhattan's 47th Street feted Ahmed bin Sulayem, deputy chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, for his contribution to the industry....

Traders say Dubai has less red tape and is closer to the expanding Chinese, Arab and Russian markets.

It also competes directly with Antwerp, serving as a gateway for India's burgeoning diamond output. For example, Rosy Blue diamonds, a leading Antwerp-based business, is considering moving its headquarters to Dubai, said Pearl Chandrawansa, who heads the company's Dubai operations. (emphasis added)

The bolded section suggests that trade can trump enduring rivalries -- but it also suggests that trade won't cause enduring rivalries to go away, either.

[I thought this was a good news post!!--ed. Sorry,I failed to stay the course.]

posted by Dan on 10.25.06 at 08:52 AM


What this about "even Israelis with dual citizenship"? Does that mean that Dubai's great ties with Israel don't include allowing Israeli passports in?

posted by: DK on 10.25.06 at 08:52 AM [permalink]

Greed -- the universal solvent.

posted by: Antonio Manetti on 10.25.06 at 08:52 AM [permalink]

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