Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and one of the world’s top oil exporters, will “pick and choose” how to assist its debt-laden neighbour Dubai, a senior Abu Dhabi official said on Saturday.
“We will look at Dubai’s commitments and approach them on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean that Abu Dhabi will underwrite all of their debts,” the official in the government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi said.
A policy of selectively assisting cash-strapped companies affiliated with the government of Dubai, instead of providing blanket assistance, challenges assumptions made by many investors who assumed that wealthy Abu Dhabi provided a complete safety net for its racier neighbour.
Dubai's crisis exploded on Wednesday with the emirate angering investors and sending global markets sharply lower.
“Some of Dubai’s entities are commercial, semi-government ones. Abu Dhabi will pick and choose when and where to assist,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Abu Dhabi, which pumps 90 percent of the oil that make the UAE the world’s third-largest oil exporter, has already provided $15 billion in indirect support for Dubai through the UAE central bank and two private Abu Dhabi banks.
How much more support the emirate provides for its cash-strapped neighbour, however, will depend on how Dubai clarifies its stand on unresolved issues.
“Until things become clearer, it is very difficult to make any further investment decision on the bonds. Many things have to be clarified by Dubai,” the official said.
The UAE central bank said it was closely watching events stemming from the Dubai debt crisis so that the national economy is not harmed.
Constitutionally, each emirate in the UAE is a separate legal entity within the loose federation, and each controls its own natural and financial resources.
The federal government has no guaranteed access to those resources nor is it obliged to underwrite the liabilities of any emirate.