Good article in The National about the potential harm that opaque business dealings can cause on the international stage:

Many UAE companies are paying more interest than they need to because they are not transparent about their accounts, according to the head of one of the world’s leading credit rating agencies.

Companies gained cheap credit during the boom years, but credit rating agencies soon questioned their ability to repay those debts as the downturn took hold. This led firms such as Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group, Taqa and Emirates NBD to request that their ratings be withdrawn, saying the assessments did not accurately reflect their creditworthiness.

Deven Sharma, the president of Standard and Poor’s (S&P), said companies that shun ratings agencies may pay the price in their ability to raise capital from investors.

“The question is what pricing are they getting? Are they getting what they could be with more transparency? That’s the fundamental question, and that’s the role we play.”

This represents an area where cultural differences regarding transparency produce a palpable negative effect. To compete on a global stage, the UAE will need to change its approach toward transparency to better match the customs of its rivals.