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12 December, 2005

Safe for now?

An interesting, if disturbing, article looks at the prospect of a terror attack in Dubai, after the attacks in Jordan and continued threats to perceived western allies in the region.

The article points out that Dubai has enjoyed "a remarkably terrorist-free existence, the only recent such attack being the discovery and defusing of a bomb in a shopping mall in 1999".

In this era of terror across the globe, it is hard to imagine any nation being exempt from danger. But the article identifies several reasons why Dubai might actually be safer than most. One is Dubai's historic connections and strong trade links with Iran.

"It suits Tehran, which has previously sponsored terrorism in Saudi Arabia, to have a gateway into the Arab Gulf. To some extent the mini-state is under its protection."

Another is terrorists deliberately keeping Dubai as an "open city". Other theories the article proposes are probably unsafe to repeat here given the UAE's lack of media freedom, so to keep the unbeloved proxy happy, they must be read at the original source.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know there are economic ties with Iran . . . but are there also political ties? The two countries seem to have totally opposite philosophies with respect to religion, tolerance and ties with the West.

As for paying off the terrorists I think this is highly unlikely. Western media seems to persist with the notion that "the terrorists" are a cohesive organization, but the reality to my mind is that they are disparate groups of fanatical nutters for the most part.

I think the UAE has just been lucky so far. Same goes for Qatar.

12 December, 2005 07:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops forgot about the bombing in Qatar the other year, guess they aren't so lucky after all. BTW how do I go back to edit my post?

12 December, 2005 07:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok,let;s be honest, is the uae the next target? after all,no 1 thought that jordan would be bombed. u do never know.

12 December, 2005 08:23  
Blogger Parv said...

SD - Great link.

Residents can't deny the conspiracy theories, that discreetly float about town, as to why our fine city has not shared the same fate as its regional brethren.

Personally, I'm not interested.

People who choose to live in a politically unstable region should be aware of the risk that comes with it. If an attack is meant to happen, it will.

Until then, enjoy the sun, the beach, the inebriating lifestyle, and all your material possessions.

12 December, 2005 08:45  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

John B.Chilton has been covering this, complete with the expected arguments in the comments.

12 December, 2005 08:47  
Blogger CG said...

There have been events in the past that have caused concern. Airlines being blown up and the odd rumours. I disagree with the article that states that it is easy to infiltrate the UAE. I also know that a lot of small 'attempts' at terrorism are thwarted in the early stages here.
I believe that Dubai could be seen as a target by smaller groups but not by the larger organisations. They need Dubai the way it is. It offers a huge amount of protection for their operations in various forms.

12 December, 2005 10:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sexual assault and the guy gets only 2 months ???????

(sorry for completely going off the track but fear of repercussion do not allow me to be specific)

12 December, 2005 10:25  
Blogger Jassim said...

Someone spent an hour explaining to me a conspiracy theory, but that was a private discussion. When it comes to forums like this, it is not always smart to mouth off your ideas in public, even if you are anon or not. Eastern govts and western intelligence monitor these places and know where u r posting from. You dont want to find your self with a visit from a couple of official kandoras one of these mornings..

Anywayz, I think the UAE is very safe from terror. Tsunamis and earthquakes are more real concern, BUT I still prefer not to go to much to places where there are alot of white faces, you know, just in case.

12 December, 2005 10:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p(~_~)d - if u arent interested u wouldnt have posted a comment lol

Local Hero - tsunamis are not going to affect us on the western coast of the U.A.E., as there are no fault lines in the arabian gulf sea (remember the earthquake in the indian ocean created tsunami)

earthquakes yes there is a fault line going from rak to abu dhabi, but its not a major one...also im no geologist but we are in the desert, the sand absorbs the shock of earthquakes! (geologists and earthquake experts back me up on this - dont want my family's McMansion in emirates hills to fall down)

if there was to be one though i have faith in the construction of the last 30 years in the U.A.E....can't say the same for kuwait, where ive been working its all about saving every dinar u can, even for the contractors! (so basically bottom line if theres an eqrthquake here all of kuwait will fall to the ground)

i will steer clear of the many white faces when i get back to dubai, ill convince my "white" friends to hang out in a more "babu - aka subcon scum" location, i guess i belong there anyway! i love partying the night away in boudoir but prefer to be alive! kiddin hehe

well sorry for being anonymous just waiting to relocate back home to Dubai so i can start my own blogger identity..then i will have more credibility in my posts and comments..


ps (in the bottom fold of the kuwait times yesterday it was mentioned the kuwaitis are in talks with a UK firm to build the tallest building in the world in Kuwait! 1001 m, $150 billion and a project completion time of 25 of silk as its to be called may just outdo the burj dubai, luckily only in 25 years if it will be the year 2030 then so im sure people will have forgotten burj dubai anyway, as the focus of media will be how the mechanical dinosaurs in dubai land will have gotten lives of their own and freed the laborers from labor camps in hilton keynes.

12 December, 2005 12:10  
Blogger 3omani said...

Bad source. The only place Iran funds 'terrorism' is Palestine. Although Iran has had shaky relations with Saudi Arabia, I don't know of any terrorist incident.

UAE-Iran relations have nothing to do with how safe or unsafe Dubai is. I personally think Dubai should be more careful. I wonder how well-prepared the city is.

People tell me Dubai will never be hit because "you don't sh*t where you eat".

12 December, 2005 12:15  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Although Iran has had shaky relations with Saudi Arabia, I don't know of any terrorist incident.

Me neither - I was surprised by that.

I find the other claims in the article more interesting, but they aren't really safe to discuss, let alone quote, here.

trailingspouse - you can't edit comments in Blogspot unfortunately. Even blog owners can't edit their comments, only posts. The only thing you can do is recomment with the corrected/full version, and delete the original. That leaves behind a "post deleted by... thing, but I can permanently delete that for you, so no one ever need know it was your second/third/fourth attempt at a perfect comment ;)

12 December, 2005 12:50  
Blogger secretdubai said...

the reality to my mind is that they are disparate groups of fanatical nutters for the most part

Exactly. I think many of them are a form of "fan-club" that take their inspiration from Al Q, but aren't directly controlled by them.

And while Al Q may intend to leave a certain nation state alone for its own reasons, the fan-clubs have no such restrictions, or even awareness that they are supposed to avoid targeting country X. Which means that nowhere is safe.

The murder of Margaret Hassan is a good example here: unsanctioned by Al Q, with Zarqawi even making an (abeit lame) attempt to prevent it.

And this is perhaps also a sign that there will increasingly be infighting among terror cells and fan-clubs, possibly as fan-clubs reject Al Q protections of certain western-allied states, as breach of their ideaology. So this could make Al Q-"protected" states even less safe.

12 December, 2005 13:11  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

secretdubai wrote: "I find the other claims in the article more interesting, but they aren't really safe to discuss, let alone quote, here."

I read the article yesterday. I read it again today. I see nothing that is not safe to discuss. I do see a halfbaked piece of journalism - mostly it is either old news, old speculation, or just plain ignorant.

Are you perhaps referring to the paragraph that begins "There have been several ...."?

12 December, 2005 13:18  
Blogger secretdubai said...

john - the allegations about turning-blind-eyes among other things, and the references to funding. I discussed the article with someone before posting, who agreed parts are probably too risky to quote.

There are so many uber-eyes on this place now, I have to err on the side of paranoia.

12 December, 2005 13:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that no country is safe from terrorists; it is a global phenomenon now and I guess it is only a matter of when.

I would just like to point out that these conspiracy theories hold a lot of water and perhaps it is this reason why they are not striking here. Also, people living in safe places like Dubai need to understand that Iraq is sparing them this problem. The Americans seriously have problems there and I personally think the terrorists would start hitting safe-zones like Dubai only if they get desperate for logistical space.

It is clear that countries like UAE and Qatar are not active members in the bandwagon of the "war on terror", hence the security. In fact, they have not even taken a staunch verbal stand like Saudi, Egypt or Pakistan. It could all change very quickly if UAE starts actively helping the US in this "war" (spying, renditions, extradition or any other means).

The war in Iraq will actually determine the stability of this region. Iraq is "exporting terror" and they are hitting places that they deem is creating hinderances in their resistance against the US. So it wouldnt be a surprise if countries in this region wouldnt like to be in the "hitlist". Unfortunately, while the terrorists are giving countries 3 choices (support them; denounce and become a hindrance to them; or just stay neutral and carry on with their work), America is leaving countries only 2 options: you are either with the US or against them. So doing nothing to help the US is viewed as "supporting the terrorists" by the US.

So countries like UAE will soon have to take sides as the US wont be too thrilled about them just taking a third option of staying away from this crazy war.

13 December, 2005 11:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No country is exempt for such attacks but I would not tie it to the region. Hey did anyone think it would happen in NY, London or any other European country. Please also remember Islamic extremist are not the only people who have used terror to further their cause. People seem to forget Israel ware among the first and they used it on British and Americans and tried to blame it on the Arabs. As for Dubai, well it could be cause it is a financial safe haven for many of these extremists, if they blow this bridge were will they cash their money….All I know I am glad it has not and hope it will never happen here.

Oh Timmy boy you seem to have given up on the other blog I told you your kind only knows how to hide behind lies and sanction anyone who tries to uncover it.

13 December, 2005 16:14  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

14 December, 2005 00:00  
Blogger BuJ said...

3Omani and SD

Iran has been responsible for a few terrorist events in Saudi Arabia in the past decades. I don't know the exact dates, but a group of Iranian guys once tried to take control of Mecca during Hajj. They were armed. Again I am not sure, but I think this happened twice.

Where's emirati when you need him? He knows all these things off by heart.

14 December, 2005 01:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD-I agree with currently erring on the side of paranoia. One of the main reasons why Dubai hasn't had many problems (at least ones that aren't in the press) hasn't really been addressed here and unfortunately, it problably should remain that way.

14 December, 2005 10:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To buj-

The event that took place during Hajj in 1979 was not Iran's doing. I myself believed this story until I sat down and read the details of it.

The act was carried out by a group of individuals who were Sunni (unlike Shi'ah Iran). Just to make that incident clearer, let me shed some background on Muslim theology. It was a prophecy of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) that there would come a time when the Islamic Caliphate would cease to exist (as it is now) and that there will be individuals who will try to bring it back. He informed (and is an integral part of a Muslim's belief) that a person will emerge from his descendants whose name will be Muhammad ibn Abdullah and who will have some traits. This person is whom the Muslim world calls the "Mahdi" (Savior) and is waiting for his arrival. The shi'ites and Sunni both believe in his arrival, but with a few differences. Shi'ites believe that the Mahdi was already born and has been in hiding for the last 1200+ years and will emerge when it is the Will of God. Whereas the Sunni belief is that he will be born normally, 40 years before he appears, and will be given a pledge of allegiance by Muslims as their leader against oppression. The Mahdi will be spotted during Hajj time in Makkah.

Now coming back to the events of 1979. The group that took siege of the Ka'bah was led by a person called Juhaymin (I think that was his name, but I can check up) who claimed that with him was the awaited Mahdi, and truly enough his name was Muhammad ibn Abdullah. He demanded that the Saudi government give allegiance to this Muhammad ibn Abdullah or they would fight if they had to. He had around 500 armed followers with him at the time. The saudi government ordered their troops in, but the Saudi army refused to go in because they were confused as what if this really was the Mahdi? The Saudis then started thinking of alternative plans (they are pretty interesting details, I suggest people read about it), but the Saudi army finally decided that they would step in. A fight ensued in which hundreds of Saudi army men died and almost all of Juhaymin's men died. Juhaymin finally gave up when the Muhammad ibn Abdullah, who was with him, was shot and bled to death. That's when Juhaymin realized that this was not the actual Mahdi as he had just died (contrary to the prophecy) and his remaining followers as well as he himself surrendered.

The shi'ites under Ayatullah Khumayni were watching with interest (and they were pretty vocal too as the Mahdi for them is almost to the level of prophet). So their vociferous support for Juhaymin, who was fighting with Sauds (in other words, Wahhabis, whom the shi'ites hate to their guts) was viewed by onlookers as an Irani-sponsored act. But in actuality Juhaymin and his followers were diametrically opposed to the teachings of Khumayni and his followers.

Just for added information, there are around 4 known Muhammad ibn Abdullah's at the moment who seem to fit the descriptions of the savior as per the prophecy.

14 December, 2005 12:25  
Blogger BuJ said...


Thanks for the very interesting history. Too bad you didn't publish a name as well. So are these people of 1979 connected to Iran in any way? From what I understand, they are. However, like I said I don't know that much about the incident, but from what I read I got the impression that Iran was in one way involved.

Anyway I subscribe to the concept of the Mahdi but I don't think we'll see it in our lifetime until some serious signs have appeared.

thanks again for your comments. very interesting reading.

14 December, 2005 12:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You can find this incident related in a book called "The Kingdom of the Sauds", which is banned in the GCC states unforunately.

Cheers :)

14 December, 2005 13:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reasons terrorists don't 'spoil' Dubai are no different to why Hitler didn't invade Switzerland. Think about it...

14 December, 2005 22:51  

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