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The New Silk Road?

April 12, 2007

Afshin Molavi says that a new network of commercial relationships and marriages are underway between the GCC (Gulf Cooperation and Council) and China, India and Southeast Asia. The Gulfies certainly know their future regional and world players. The Old Silk Road had its hotspots around old cities at civilizational frontiers of the world, such as Persia/Iran, the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan), and Mesopotamia/Iraq.

The New Silk Road has “caravan posts” around rising stars such as Dubai, Beijing, Mumbai, Chennai, Tokyo, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Riyadh, and Shang Hai.

An excerpt:

When Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the oil giant Saudi Aramco last year, he didn’t need a translator. Plenty of Chinese-speaking Saudis were on hand. A few years earlier, Saudi Aramco had sent dozens of employees to study in Beijing. After all, China, not the United States, represents the future growth for Saudi oil exports.

Meanwhile, the Saudis are sponsoring students to study in India, China, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Three of those countries — India, China and Malaysia — were among King Abdullah’s first four foreign visits after he ascended the throne in 2005.

But dominating the scene, appears to be Dubai:

Here in Dubai, newspaper headlines last month spoke not of Iraq or of Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy but of the historic visit to India by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Maktum, Dubai’s CEO-like ruler. Among the dozens of agreements signed on the trip: a nearly $20 billion real estate project to create three townships on 40,000 acres in India’s Maharashtra state.

This new Silk Road is not only boosting economies (the India deal is expected to create 100,000 jobs) but is changing the geoeconomic and geopolitical landscape of the East, with serious ramifications for U.S. policy.

Dubai, it might be argued, is the unofficial Middle East capital of the new Silk Road — a gathering place of capital, ideas and traders fueling the growth — and Iran, once a central force, is the sick man, albeit with enormous potential.

Love it or hate it, soon, very soon, Dubai will be on more and more people’s lips…

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