December 1997, Dubai:  Installation visit, unusually I was requested by name to attend

Close to Christmas a customer called Express Flexi-Pack in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) specifically requested that I install their recently purchased machine. My accountant sister lived in Dubai and I had visited her there before (1991 & 1994), but I did not know this customer or why they should specifically request that I attend. I stayed with my sister in Dubai rather than a hotel for this visit.

There was nothing unusual about the visit that I recall, except in hindsight: the customer’s address (PO Box 16797, JAFZ) is very similar to an address (PO Box 16958, JAFZ) used by 9/11 accomplice and Guantanamo detainee Ammar al-Baluchi. In October 1998 Baluchi used that address to register a bank account for transferring funds from bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates to the future hijackers already in the USA. The PO Box addresses are similar enough - 16797 and 16958 - that they are very likely to have been in the same building or the same block of buildings. Link to Ammar al-Baluchi’s Wikipedia entry that details his activities in Dubai in 1998.

My one clear memory from visiting this customer was when I stepped outside of the air-conditioned factory’s rear fire exit for a cigarette. What I saw in the neighbouring factory compound reminded me of a scene from a concentration camp - the south Asian workers there were waving and calling to me from behind a barbed wire covered slit window (with no glass)l. Although I couldn’t hear/understand what they were saying, it appeared that seeing me smoking a cigarette was a highlight in their day. I felt ashamed to be part of a financial system that was underpinned by such exploitation. 

The strangest thing about this customer was they asked me to return three months later, in March 1998.

My customer data base entry for this customer is linked here
1997 photo c
ontact sheet of my machine installations in Oct Jakarta [#3], Dec Brooklyn [#5] & Dec Dubai [#11]


Truly, for some of us nothing is written, unless we write it 
© Anthony C Heaford - The Quiet Mancunian