POV: What is this place called Arabia?

The author is a retired school administrator (formerly superintendent of schools in Potsdam and in Albemarle County, Va.) who now lives in Saratoga Springs and Sarasota, Fla. He and his wife, Ruth Kellogg, former Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent, recently traveled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi as part of a Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce cultural exchange trip.

Recently, a small group from Upstate New York visited The United Arab Emirates as part of a fact finding and goodwill effort aimed at understanding a part of the world about which most of us in America are ill informed, but with which there are growing connections in business, industry and cultural matters.

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the journey mainly so that its member and friends could begin to forge a relationship of understanding with the place that has invested in GlobalFoundries, whose influence is already making its mark on business and real estate markets locally.

GlobalFoundries is an investment in America by an international investment company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates known as ATIC or Advanced Technology Investment Company. ATIC is part of the Mubadala Corporation, which is the investing arm for the Abu Dhabi government. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the president of the UAE has recently announced a plan to change the ratio of a 70 percent reliance on oil revenues and a 30 percent reliance of all other revenues, to the reverse of that by 2030.

The area of the Emirates is roughly 32,000 square miles, slightly smaller than New York state. The population is just over 8 million, up from 4 million in 2005. Fewer than one in five are native citizens; the majority comes from over 160 countries seeking jobs in the fast growing local economy.

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