Friday 24 November 2017

Darragh McCullough: They've got the cash and we've got the food – let's do business

North Co Dublin potato farmer Tom Keogh and his wife, Eimear, duck in out of the rain into Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport. Their suitcases are crammed with their home-grown spuds and crisps as they set out as part of the Irish food trade mission to the Middle East.

Meanwhile, on his sprawling 3,000-acre farm and stud just outside the Saudi capital of Riyadh, King Abdullah spreads hundreds of thousands of litres of crude oil on the gallops he uses to train his 700-strong stable of horses. It's his preferred way of keeping the sandy base of the track from blowing away during the occasional sandstorms.

Sand and 50C heat was about all you would have found in the Gulf region a century ago. There was barely enough to feed the few Bedouin tribes that eked out a living from the desert. Then somebody realised that the whole area was sitting on the biggest oil deposits in the world. The Gulf states are now blessed with riches that dwarf anything we can conceive of.

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