In one of those stories that begs the question "How did they get away with that?", Dubai's state-controlled investment vehicle announced a $5B deal with MGM Mirage. This is despite the fact that gambling is officially banned in the emirate. As reported in the Guardian:
"Dubai World, which is controlled by the Middle Eastern emirate's government, is putting $2.7bn into a 76-acre resort on the Las Vegas Strip and will buy up to $2.4bn worth of MGM shares. Although an Islamic nation, Dubai is renowned for its liberal policies. But while alcohol is tolerated, gambling is strictly forbidden for the emirate's 1.4 million residents.
Dubai World's chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, brushed aside questions about the apparent conflict of attitudes by pointing out that the company had long owned a small stake in Kerzner International - the owner of the Bahamas' Paradise Island casino.
"Through our Kerzner investment we're already into gambling, so this shouldn't come as a surprise," he told the newswire service Bloomberg."
So do business relationships get much more curious than this?
Well, staying on the oil-revenue theme, here's one that should raise some eyebrows:
US Dependency On Foreign Oil:
Check out the most recent US government data from this year:
It's good to see our American neighbors sitting pretty in the top three. And of course the UK gets some benefit from the "special relationship" - lifting it just above that oil industry powerhouse of Gabon.
But Venezuela, the well known supporter of the "devilish" Mr. Bush sitting at number 4 on the list? And how about those bastions of democracy - Angola and Libya?
Just goes to show that in a perfect market money talks louder than politics.