Dubai 'will fight corruption, rise again'
Dubai, April 18, 2009
The ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) vowed on Saturday to fight corruption, saying recent prosecutions showed the authorities are serious.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, speaking in an unprecedented Internet forum with journalists, also predicted that the controversial financial hub would recover from the financial downturn quicker than its peers.
'There is no room for corruption and the corrupt. In all corruption cases, people are not only prosecuted and punished, administrative and legal holes that they exploited to commit their crimes are plugged,' said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the prime minister and vice president of the UAE.
Prosecutors this month charged a former minister with embezzling public funds and harming state interests, one of several figures netted since the start last year of a campaign to overturn a reputation for lack of transparency.
'These cases are a sign of the government's clear interest in improving management of firms and its commitment to principles of proper accountablity,' he said. 'No one in the Emirates is above the law and accountability.'
Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the UAE federation, has been hit badly by the global downturn. The UAE central bank and finance ministry have together launched Dh120 billion ($32.67 billion) worth of funding facilities for banks since September to unlock credit markets.
The central bank bought $10 billion of Dubai government bonds to enable it help state-linked firms to meet obligations. But Sheikh Mohammed said: 'Our economy will recover faster than all the other economies.'
He said the international media had waged a campaign against Dubai with predictions of economic collapse and a focus on the treatment of Asian labourers who built the city.
'We are not troubled by criticism and we don't fear the campaigns,' he said in the interview, conducted via his new website www.uaepm.ae.
Sheikh Mohammed, a poet who recently published an anthology, an owner of race horses and keen rider, said he was in excellent health and had enough time to carry out his numerous functions.
But Western-style democracy was not appropriate for the UAE, which has an advisory council instead of a legislature, he said. The prime minister said the Gulf Arab monetary union project was still alive.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, last month shelved a 2010 deadline for a common currency but offered no alternative.
'There is no retreat from the common Gulf currrency. Work is ongoing to complete the requirements,' he said in the comments, published on state news agency WAM.-Reuters