Dubai's al-Maktoum family call pitch for state promotion job

Dubai's rulers have asked major international agencies to pitch for the job of promoting the Arab state as one of the world's leading financial centres.

Up to six networks are understood to be contesting the assignment, which will be backed by a budget of at least £15 million. A decision is expected within the next two weeks.

Dubai's ruling al-Maktoum family is eager to turn its state into a credible successor to Beirut as the Middle East's key commercial centre. "They're preparing for the day when the oil runs out,

an insider said.

While Beirut's infrastructure has been destroyed by years of war, Dubai has been investing heavily in the technology needed to turn it into the Gulf's trading hub and a bridge for financial services linking the Middle East with the rest of the world.

However, the initiative could spark rivalry with nearby Bahrain, which harbours similar ambitions.

The latest initiative follows what has already been a concerted effort to promote Dubai as a winter holiday destination.

Now the state's leaders want to exploit the fact that Dubai is located in one of the most peaceful parts of the Middle East and is a more open and tolerant society than neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

They believe they now have the credentials to present Dubai as a business and conference centre and a suitable location for the regional headquarters of major international companies.

Earlier this year, Dubai's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rasshid al-Maktoum, said the state's aim was to ensure its position as a global financial centre "so that this region will have a place on the world's market map".

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