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Dubai 'ecstatic' about Halliburton's move
14 March 2007

WASHINGTON, March 14 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Dubai's business community is ecstatic about Halliburton's announcement that it will move its headquarters to the city known for its lax or non-existent restrictions on corporations. "I'm sure everyone in Dubai, especially the government of Dubai, is ecstatic," Yusef Ibrahim, managing director for the Strategic Energy Investment Group (SEIG), told WBUR Radio's On Point program. SEIG's clients include some of the best-known Western corporations with business in Dubai, including Exxon Mobil, British Petroleum, Norway's Statoil, France's Totalfinaelf and JP Morgan.

Referring to Halliburton's move, Ibrahim made the following observations on the On Point program:

"I think they are rushing toward what I would call a 'comfort zone.' Dubai is a 'comfort zone' because what many people here, for example, in the United States would consider 'corruption' is not necessarily considered a vice in a place like Dubai. It's a very free-wheeling atmosphere where all kinds of businessmen come and they don't expect too many questions to be asked. Don't forget that Dubai from its inception was conceived as a place where you can -- how shall we say -- go around the rules. Dubai started out as a place from which you smuggled gold to India and the subcontinent. And then it evolved. And today it's still considered the largest spot on the earth where you launder money. All the Russian moguls came there. I don't mean that it's a place that spends all its time doing things that are irregular, but basically it prefers to let people work under soft light rather than under spotlights."

"Halliburton is a known quantity. ... It works in areas and with countries that deal in oil and weapons. Halliburton has worked with Iran in the past -- directly and indirectly. The Middle East is an area where you need some ambiguity when it comes to things like paying commissions. Other people would call it "bribes."But this is the way business is done out there. You can't be constantly scrutinized. You can't forget that Halliburton is now under tremendous scrutiny and a number of investigations. Especially KBR. It has had a history that has disturbed some people in Congress...they would feel a lot more comfortable in a place like Dubai."

"Part of this is a campaign of pressure, so that the United States and the SEC ease up on their scrutiny, which has increased tremendously in light of corporate compensation and the amazing packages we've seen in the last few years ... Halliburton is part of a push back from the business community. After all who runs Halliburton? People who think they know better than the average person."

"I don't think Halliburton is doing this because its clients are having a hard time getting to the United States."