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Dubai World: Dubai one year on

One year on from the revelation of Dubai World’s debt problems the emirate is looking to the foundations of its prosperity – its position as a trade, transport and services hub – for recovery. Can Dubai trade its way out of trouble? Dominic Dudley reports.

THE BUSINESS STRATEGY of Abdul Salam, a Dubai-based Iranian spice trader, is admirably straightforward. "I buy from everywhere in the world. I sell to everywhere in the world," he says. However, the trade is not without its difficulties. Sitting in his office filled with sacks of turmeric, black peppercorns and dried lemons, he concedes that although trading volumes have remained high despite the downturn over the past two years, profit margins are under pressure.

Salam’s strategy and his fortunes reflect those of the rest of the city around him. Trade has traditionally been at the heart of the emirate’s economy but the past decade’s boom and bust has meant that Dubai has been finding it harder to make its economy work of late.

Salam’s business is based in Deira – an area on the eastern shore of Dubai Creek that is home to a multitude of trading houses and souks. Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iranians and others buy and sell almost everything, from juvenile sharks caught in the Gulf waters to Madagascan cloves, Japanese tyres and South Korean electrical goods.

For spice traders such as Salam, Iran, China and India are the key markets. Trade with Iran is particularly active.

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