Dubai's next black hole?

The United Arab Emirates' new crackdown on business with Iran will no doubt draw applause in Washington but alarm in Dubai.

New regulations preventing transactions with Iranian banks means trade between the two nations has all but come to a standstill in recent weeks, according to those affected.

In 2009 total trade was worth an estimated $12bn, making the oil-rich Arab nation Iran's top trading partner.

But the reality is that only one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE federation has been responsible for the bulk of Iranian trade and is thus regarded as Tehran's backdoor to the West – Dubai.

For years, Dubai has been seen by the West as dragging its feet on rigorous enforcement of UN sanctions - an accusation it always denies.

But Dubai's much publicised debt problems, which required a $20bn lifeline from the emirate of Abu Dhabi next door, has changed the power balance in the UAE.

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