A Story of Dubai

Picture this for a moment: A company that is based in an Middle Eastern country providing vital services for the United States, and yet only a few Representatives and Senators have come out to oppose the company’s providing those vital services. And the media uproar is deafening in its silence. And the name of the company?


On March 11, Halliburton announced that they were going to be relocating the CEO’s office (and thus the company headquarters) from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. So, now one of the biggest U.S. government contractors and military suppliers is moving to Dubai.

Does the name “Dubai Ports World” (DPW) sound familiar? The Arab company bought controlling interest in a British company that ran a significant number of U.S. ports, and the media and Congress went totally crazy over it. Lindsey Graham, Bill Frist, Hillary Clinton, Bob Menendez, and John Kerry all came down hard on rejecting the DPW deal, and the uproar eventually drove DPW to sell their U.S ports business to AIG. And what’s happening with Halliburton?

Near silence.

Congress and the media complained that no foreign entity should be allowed to control U.S. strategic assets like ports (never mind that 80%+ of U.S. ports are foreign owned now and the ports that DPW bought were owned by a U.K. company). Ok, so how “strategic” should we consider responsibilities for U.S. Army and Marines fuel supplies in Iraq?

People went ape over how a foreign entity would be in charge of U.S. security (even though everyone employed at a U.S. port would be a U.S. citizen and a member of the Longshoreman’s Union). And Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary is responsible for the construction of mulitple new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities.

And still others were upset about how no country not based in the United States could avoid conflicts of interest and divided loyalties. And yet Halliburton’s own move to Dubai will enable the company to focus more on the oil development and sales opportunities to eastern countries like Russia, Libya, and Vietnam, to name a few.

What’s the biggest differences between Halliburton and DPW? Dick Cheney didn’t used to be CEO of DPW, and Halliburton isn’t run by an Arab Muslim. (Note: Dubai and the UAE are some of the U.S.’ greatest allies in the Middle East, providing us with valuable intelligence on the region and with a safe port for our navy. Any bets that the DPW deal may have been arranged as a way to reward a vital ally? And bigots scuttled the deal.)

Now, it’s not all bad – Halliburton will remain encorporated in the United States, so the company doesn’t expect to change their tax status in any way. Any bets how long that lasts.

NYTimes article
CBS News article
Wikipedia entry on Dubai Ports World
ABC news article