Monday, March 07, 2011

PorTgate cum PorKgate

This story in The Nation today is mostly about the plans for the richer GCC countries to put together a Marshall Plan for Oman and Bahrain to address what one official elliptically called "the circumstances that the region is experiencing".

But what really caught my line was this paragraph:
Meanwhile Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad Al Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, has helped to mediate between the UAE and Oman to "clear the atmosphere" between the neighbouring countries following the arrest last month of what Oman alleged was an Emirati spy ring in the sultanate.
The story of the UAE spying on Oman is something I'd miss. Why would the UAE want to spy on Oman?

It turns out it's industrial espionage, otherwise known as market research.

You can do a Google and find plenty.

Muscati Confidential posted this back in November:
Well, Oman's Government, led by the Ministry of Finance, is investing heavily in a new industrial mega-port complex in Duqm, a previously sleepy coastal town in the middle of nowhere between Muscat and Salalah.
...
As part of that complex, the obvious play for Oman was to add a 'free trade port facility', where goods can be shipped in and out without significant duty or paperwork. The goods can be processed too, and 'value added'. It seems the Abu Dhabi crowd were concerned that the strategic location of the port* would impact the outlook for the UAE's planed free trade zone in Abu Dhabi, and indeed were concerned about the impact on the existing Jebal Ali Free Trade port in Dubai [note: now also effectively owned by Abu Dhabi, post Dubai-meltdown].

So it seems the foreign intelligence arm of the Abu Dhabi Royal family had managed to bribe several Omanis to betray their country and provide intel on the goings on in Duqm.

And how did Abu Dhabi respond? Muscati Confidential says:
The word is the UAE, as a demonstration of their petulance, have blockaded all pork shipments from the UAE to Oman. This is why there is a drastic shortage of nice American and other land imported pork product in Oman right now.

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