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One of the miracles of the Middle East duty free channel’s success in the past decade has been the way it has flourished in the face of non-stop political volatility.
As delegates gather in Dubai today for the annual Middle East Duty Free Association (MEDFA) Conference, they will be reminded of that backdrop by the local newspaper headlines. The pages are unremittingly grim, leading of course with the tragic assassination of Lebanese Christian Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel yesterday.
‘World denounces Lebanon killing’ screams the headline in The Gulf Today. And the reading doesn’t get any easier as one turns the pages. ‘Top Hamas leader killed in Gaza raid’; ‘Amman says US trapped in Iraq’; ‘Egyptian police find explosives’; ‘Israel ready to fight Iran to the last soldier’.
And so it goes. This region is teetering on the brink and nowhere, tragically, are there headlines proclaiming bold peace initiatives. For now it is the Masters of War, as Bob Dylan once called them, who are calling the shots, metaphorical and literal in this region.
The world must seize every possible balance to that dynamic. And commerce – led by the flourishing, innovative, wealth- and job-creating aviation to travel retail sector – is one of them. The industry’s role, led by the likes of Dubai Duty Free (pictured), has never been more important.