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16 January, 2004

Biding time

A chill wind weaves through the coffee shop at the bottom of the Orifice Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, where the Samurai is enjoying a strawberry shisha. He has the contents of a small electronic souq - mp3 players, USB flash drives, automatic gate openers and strange alien control devices - dangling from some sort of keyring. Somewhere deep within it is a traditional "metal" key, probably the most valuable item for its novelty and antiquity.

Although the Top Job is now vacant, with the previous incumbent recently dug out of a hole in the Samurai's home town, he has not yet applied for it. Increasingly empowered hordes of unruly Kurds and bellicose Shiia make the position less appealing than it once was. For now, he waits in Dubai, making money, and plotting at his leisure.

Patience is the critical virtue of the Arab, the one that his Western counterpart least understands. There is no rush among a people that have long known the world does not end over a delayed decision or postponed action. While the Westerner frets and paces in his hotel room over documents demanding an urgent signing, the Arab attends to more important things. Family life, relaxation, and the neverending spiral of shisha smoke in the many Westerner-free coffee houses.



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