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The slow and silent exodus of Iranians from Dubai

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Iranian workers in Dubai Creek, January 17, 2016. Ashraf Mohammad Mohammad Alamra / REUTERS

Once upon a time, in Dubaï, where, on both banks of the creek, the arm of the sea that gave birth to the Gulf mirat, one heard to speak as much Persian as ™ Arabic, English or Hindi. Constituted by Iranian banks, bazaars, mosques and restaurants, the neighborhoods of Deira and Bur Dubaï, the historic center of the city-state, drained in the year 2000 a crowd of traders, entrepreneurs and tourists from the Islamic Republic. The tiny territory, a member of the United Arab Emirates Federation (UAE), served as a port of substitution for the Persian giant, embargoed by the United States.

Born at the beginning of XXe century, when Arabic-speaking populations in southern Iran, ruled by central government taxes, have migrated to the southern shores of the Gulf, this shared history is now passing through a difficult time. The toughening of US sanctions against Tehran, following Washington's decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal in May 2018, the ongoing war of nerves in the Gulf, where maritime incidents are multiplying, and the regional economic moroseness, consequence of deprived oil prices, push the Iranian community of Dubai to the departure.

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"There is a movement of exodus without precedentsays Cyrus Razzaghi, an Iranian economic consultant, who travels between Tehran and Dubai. Iranian businessmen, some of whom lived in emblematic places of the mirat, such as the Palm [les îlots artificiels], the marina and Burj Khalifa [la tour la plus haute du monde], go to Turkey, Georgia or Oman, places much more conducive to the pursuit of their activities. AT"

Closed bank accounts

In a recent article from Financial Times (FT), a senior director noted that in the space of three years, the number of Iranians residing in the UAE, most of whom live in Dubai, has melted away from the same source, the number of visitors from Iran was halved between 2016 and last year, 000 to 350 000. This disruption is in the image of trade between the two countries, valued at 19 billion dollars (17 billion euros) in 2018, and which, dâ € ™ d After the projected miraties, quoted by the FT, could drop by half this year.