Special Reports
Bush Hosts Ruler of Dubai at Camp David

USA Today
August 8, 2008

President George W. Bush welcomed Dubai's ruler to Camp David on Sunday,
returning the favor for the opulent hospitality he received in the United
Arab Emirates this year.

At the presidential retreat in rustic Maryland, Bush met with Sheik
Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UAE's prime minister and ruler of Dubai.

"You're looking good," Bush told al-Maktoum after the sheik arrived by
helicopter. Both leaders were dressed casually and engaged in small talk
before driving out of sight on a golf cart.

Al-Maktoum's overnight stay at the presidential compound follows a visit
to Camp David in late June by Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the
crown prince of Abu Dhabi, another in the UAE's string of seven
semiautonomous emirates.

A Camp David invitation is a plum for world leaders, so the friendly
treatment for an oil-rich Persian Gulf nation sends a signal about just
how important the United States considers the tiny emirates. "The ruler of
Dubai is an important figure in the emirates and an influential figure
around the world," said Gordon Johndroe, Bush's national security

Bush spent one night in the United Arab Emirates during a Mideast trip in
January, staying at a luxurious hotel and traveling to the desert for a
sumptuous dinner.

While in the UAE, Bush visited both Abu Dhabi, the capital that has the
lion's share of the country's oil resources, and Dubai, the largest
emirate in population that is in the midst of a boom as its leaders shape
it into a major financial center.

Economic matters were among the expected topics for discussion at the
meetings Sunday, along with Iran's destabilizing influence in the region,
counterterrorism efforts and high oil prices. The UAE also recently
decided to cancel billions of dollars in Iraqi debt, appoint an ambassador
to Baghdad and reopen its embassy in the capital.

Dubai is a coastal tourist haven with flashy hotels and glitzy
skyscrapers, but also a Muslim country with traditionally conservative values.

The UAE has few political freedoms for its citizens, which makes Bush's
warm treatment somewhat awkward in the face of his push to seed democracy,
particularly in the Arab world. In the UAE, an elite group of royal rulers
makes virtually all the decisions.

On Monday, Bush begins a week-long trip to Asia, with stops in South
Korea, Thailand and China, where he will attend the Olympics in Beijing.


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