Arabian Business Weekly Update 11 September 2005

THE SPECTACLE of impoverished nations like Afghanistan and Bangladesh ferrying emergency aid to the wealthiest country on the planet serves as a grim notice to us all. THE SPECTACLE of impoverished nations like Afghanistan and Bangladesh ferrying emergency aid to the wealthiest country on the planet serves as a grim notice to us all.

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By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  September 11, 2005

Nature is the instigator|~||~||~|As Americans search for who is to blame, the answer stares them in the face. THE SPECTACLE of impoverished nations like Afghanistan and Bangladesh ferrying emergency aid to the wealthiest country on the planet serves as a grim notice to us all. The scene of utter devastation in “the Big Easy”, with untold numbers of bodies lying unburied in the streets or floating in the toxic flood unleashed by Hurricane Katrina has triggered messages and acts of support from around the globe. There are disaster management lessons that leaders of the Gulf nations can learn from New Orleans. It is plainly clear that the first 24 hours are vital. Evacuation plans need to be thorough and rehearsed properly and there needs to be a clear command structure. However, the blame game reaction to this appalling disaster, whatever the final death toll maybe, seems perverse. With man-made atrocities it is easy to seek out and target the human perpetrators, it could be said it is part of the grieving process to struggle to make sense of their homicidal motives. But before the killer winds had even died down, the hunt was on for the fall guy, the scapegoat that would be held responsible with the blood of ten thousand on his hands. It was easy to point the finger of blame at the city, state or federal authorities for neglecting their duty of care — a charge that prompted one of the city’s former planning officials to declare defensively: “We are all responsible.” But for what? President Bush’s sternest crictics have even claimed that if the war in Iraq had not caused his administration to raid money destined for the New Orleans levees, the historic city might not today be a corpse-filled cesspool And, inevitably, environmentalists rushed to portray the storm as retribution for the White House’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol. After all, they argued, our consumption of fossil fuels causes global warming, and global warming leads to more frequent “extreme weather events”, not to mention rising sea levels. The reality is, of course, that natural disasters have, and always will, happen. It’s nature and we can never exactly predict when or where it will strike. In 2003 — to take just a single year — 41,000 people died in Iran when an earthquake struck the city of Bam, more than 2000 died in a smaller earthquake in Algeria, and just under 1500 died in India in a freak heatwave. Natural disasters killed many more people than international terrorism that year, according to the State Department, total global casualties due to terrorism in 2003 were 4271. On the other hand, disasters kill many fewer people each year than heart disease (around seven million), HIV/Aids (around three million) and road traffic accidents (around one million). No doubt if all the heart attacks or car crashes happened in a single day in a single city, we would pay them more attention than we do. As appalling and as desperate as the scenes from New Orleans are, we can only ever point the finger of blame at nature. ||**||Banishing the bad apples|~||~||~|YET AGAIN, Dubai’s financial regulators have to be congratulated for naming and shaming the suspects at the centre of the share scandal which rocked the emirate’s financial market at the end of August. Although their motives for doing so have come under question in the last week, the move signals determination to smoke out the bad apples that threaten to undermine the development of the region’s financial industry. With the livelihoods of everyone in the Gulf relying on the ability of stock markets to retain the confidence of investors, stern action has to be applauded. This sends out a message to the world that Dubai is not scared to drive changes when some would rather it turned a blind eye to illegal practices. ||**||

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