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Fresh Opportunities for Middle East Business and America

What are Entrepreneurs in the Middle East ultimately seeking? What drives them to propel forward in hopes of achieving their ultimate goals? Capital wealth and the recognition of their achievements are generally at the top of their lists. This is further personified by the cities of the Middle East, especially Dubai whereby its progressive and dynamic ecosystem provides ample opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive. Our constantly evolving environment pushes us to unrelentlessly build our standing structure in our field of work and to quantify our success through digits and commas in our respective bank accounts. Yet, let’s zoom out from the myopic lens of the rules of capitalism, why do entrepreneurs really seek wealth and acclaim? Access.

Access, means the ability or permission to enter or go through an area or communicate with a person. Ultimately, in our interconnected world, access is the means in which we determine success. You cannot always buy access, and many times one may not be invited to the exclusive engagement. For Middle Eastern businessmen seeking access to the United States, all was halted with Trump’s elusive Muslim Ban for international travelers. For nearly 4 years, some of the brightest entrepreneurs from the Middle East lacked the ability to access the United States. Yet, all is now set to change as the U.S. undergoes a state of new thought geared away from xenophobia, islamophobia, or other irrational fears which places a blanket ban on nationalities.

Joe Biden has signed the executive order to reverse the infamous Trump travel ban directed at Muslim majority countries. Making this the first step to bridging the gap between the east and the west and to subsequently open the gates for fresh business ventures and avenues. This undoubtedly is a monumental step towards recreating and enforcing an inclusive America.

Notwithstanding the positive impact it will have on businesses in both the Middle East region and United States. The enforcement of the travel ban served as a restriction of trade for professionals and businesses. Businesses from the targeted Muslim majority countries were hindered from obtaining elements such as work visas or entry to conferences in the U.S. to educate and evaluate new business avenues. For businesses to grow and thrive they need access to resources and connections. Evidently the ban provided limitations on both physical access and future business planning as it came with no clarity or certainty as to how long the ban would be in place.

Without a clear indication of how long the ban would be in effect, business could not constructively plan for any venture or avenue that involved the United States. Big businesses and hotel chains that projected franchising opportunities, and or branching out to the United States were directly affected.

While the ban was enacted under the national security guise to justify and to protect the American people from radical terrorist attacks, this is a necessary means and adequate reason for the protection of the country. The reality is that the ban became a restrictive measure for families with ties in these targeted Muslim majority countries and those wishing to immigrate or conduct business with the U.S. The country has an obligation to not compromise public safety, and to protect the countries and its citizens, but that obligation needed to be fulfilled in proportion to its means. In response to the proportionality of the enactment of the travel ban due to the United States terrorist attacks, Joe Biden has repeatedly rejected this policy of a blanket ban on a certain group for preventive purposes. In fact, since the onset of the presidential inauguration, domestic borne radical groups appear to outweigh those of outside nationalities or religions.

From an economic standpoint, immigration and access for foreigners has been proven to be a contributing factor to the growth of the United States economy. Prior to the effects of the pandemic, the labor force participation rate of foreign-born adults was 65.7 percent, higher than the 62.3 percent rate for the native born, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some 27.2 million foreign-born adults, 63.4 percent of all foreign-born adults, were employed that year, compared to 59.8 percent of native-born adults. At the time where the world’s economies need to recover from the crippling effects of the Coronavirus, businesses from the east will contribute to the strengthening  of the United States economy. Additionally, from a humanitarian perspective, removal of the travel ban is a call for a new chapter for America, one that recognizes that a blanket ban against one religion is morally wrong and indicative of a discriminative society. This direction from Biden of total inclusivity has sparked hope for the collaborative future of America and the affected Muslim majority countries.

The enactment of the ban showed a great deal of interconnectedness in the affected industries, not only were Middle Eastern businesses and families affected but American based multinational companies that employ foreign talent, and recruitment agencies. While the ban did not halt businesses, it made it difficult for operations to continue. Now that the ban has been lifted businesses can start planning on how to capitalize on these changes to immigration policy. As Biden continues to reverse most of Trump enacted policies we can only anticipate a positive trajectory for both international businesses and the U.S. economy. The era of access for the Middle East and its entrepreneurs has just begun.


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