Abu Dhabi Can’t Afford To Keep Iran Out Of Dubai — Bourse & Bazaar
In subsequent years, the presence of Iranians in Dubai’s economy has diminished significantly. Trade persists, but banks refuse Iran-origin funds, close the accounts of Iranian companies, and deny services to individuals who maintain Iranian citizenship. More recently, as the Trump administration cultivated ties with MBZ, the UAE began to reject more Iranian applications for residency and business visas were routinely denied. Nearly 50,000 Iranian residents have left the UAE in the last three years.
But there are new signs that Dubai may be seeking to repair its trade relationship with Iran. In a recent interview, Abdul Qader Faghihi, president of the Iranian Business Council in Dubai, declared that a “space for trade between Iran and the UAE has been reopened.” Though any opening remains in its initial stages, Faghihi referred to negotiations with “the rulers of Dubai” in which Dubai authorities “accepted that Iranians who have the capital and intend to conduct legitimate trade with the UAE will be granted business visas and that banks will open accounts for these Iranians on instruction from Dubai authorities.”
This small opening may be related to efforts to reduce tensions around the Strait of Hormuz as Abu Dhabi reconsiders its regional entanglements and the risk of conflict in the region—it is unlikely that Dubai would be able to extend an olive branch to the Iranian business community without the consent of Abu Dhabi. But economic fears, and not security concerns, provide the clearest reason why a change in policy may be on the cards—Dubai will soon need another “bailout” from Iran. Farshid Farzanegan, head of the Iran-UAE Joint Chamber of Commerce, recently stated “The UAE’s behavior towards Iranian businessmen has changed… and moves are being taken to resume relations… As the UAE economy slumps, officials have decided to cooperate with Iran.”
Ten years on from the last financial crisis, Dubai is still repaying its debts to Abu Dhabi. As the UAE braces itself for the next global recession, Iran remains the only country capable of injecting significant capital into Dubai at a time when global investors will pullback. Iranian business leaders in Dubai are wondering—how long can Abu Dhabi afford to freeze them out?
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