Search This Blog

Monday, 7 March 2011

Queen shows by visiting Sultan of Oman that she is nothing more than an expensive, but very effective marketing tool:”It all makes perfect sense”

Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense
Expressed in dollars and cents,
Pounds, shillings and pence
Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense

The Netherlands is a country with an excellent reputation on the production and export of hi-quality produce and goods:

-    Seeds, flowers and agricultural produce,
-    State-of-the-art consumer products
-    Means of production like microprocessors (NXP) and wafer machines for the chip industry (ASML)
-    Hi-tec weaponry: guns, radar installations, war ships and submarines
-    Instruments and tools for the nuclear industry 

We build it very good and we export it even better, thanks to the best marketing tool a country can have: queen Beatrix of The Netherlands. The queen is the kind of person that opens doors for the Dutch industry that remain closed for other people and countries. Although the Dutch royal family seems like a “blast from the past”, it never ceases to amaze me how effectively they can operate, as a lot of leaders are attracted by the glamour of real royalty.

It is “not our problem” that The Netherlands doesn't always look carefully at the people we deliver our goods and weapons to (Gadhaffi for instance). So it can happen that we get into a military operation against Gadhaffi, concerning the Dutch navy people currently kept hostage in Libya, only to be shot at with our own weapons. Who said that the international weapons trade is not a cynical and opportunistic business.

It is in scope of these circumstances that the next story is unfolding: the queen had planned an official state visit to Sultan Qaboos of Oman for week 10 of 2011. She would visit the desert country, accompanied by her son Willem-Alexander and daughter-in-law Maxima.

Unfortunately the societal acrimony in the Arabic world put a spoke in her wheels, as this unrest also stretched out to the country of Oman. Under some political pressure Beatrix decided to cancel the official state visit to Oman, as it was too dangerous and it could send the wrong signal to the insurgents there.

But queen Beatrix would not be queen Beatrix if she didn’t find the perfect solution in cooperation with Sultan Qaboos: the state visit would be replaced for a private dinner in the Sultan’s residence. This would keep the good relation between the Dutch royalty and the Sultan intact and everybody would be happy.

This move of the queen puzzled Geert Wilders: the populistic, pro-Israel and anti-Islam Dutch politician with big support under the lower- and middle-class white people in the large Dutch cities as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. He was flabbergasted and spoke of a ignorant, stupid move of the queen.

Prime-Minister Rutte acted dumb and this morning it became clear why this was (De Volkskrant; link in Dutch). Here are some pertinent snips of this interesting article:

The main economic interest behind Beatrix’ visit to turbulent Oman is an expected large defense order. Dutch shipyard Damen Schelde is competing in the autocratic country for an order for the delivery of four marine ships. These aimed deliveries have a value of hundreds of millions of Euro’s.

The Dutch government announced last week that the official state visit to Oman was postponed. Queen Beatrix will now have a private dinner on Tuesday with the Sultan.[…]

The postponement of the state visit and the accompanying trade mission was a big dissappointment for Damen Schelde Shipyards. CEO René Berkvens would personally take part in this trade delegation. Moreover the Dutch Navy would direct the frigate H.M. Admiraal de Ruyter, built by Damen Schelde,  to the port of Oman capital Muscat. The queen would organize an official reception on board of the frigate. “These are very good ships of which we are extremely proud” says Damen Schelde manager Jan-Wim Dekker in the nearby country of Qatar. “Oman is very important for us”[…]

The Dutch Ministery of Foreign Affairs doesn’t see in the growing acrimony in Oman a reason to stop promoting these marine ships.According to a spokesperson at the Ministery of Foreign Affairs: “These ships are not meant for war or other wicked plans. These are meant for fighting piracy in the Arabic Gulf”.

And there you have the cynical truth: our queen and her oldest son are nothing more than expensive, but extremely effective marketing tools, used to represent and to lobby for the kind of Dutch industry where the most money is earned and the most jobs are at stake.

If the Omani government would surrender during her visit and the queen and her son would fall in the hands of the Omani insurgents, she would be one of the most expensive hostages in human history and an interesting case: do we or do we not negotiate with hostage-takers. I think that everybody with a brain knows the answer.

But luckily I guess nothing will happen during the queen’s “private” visit to Oman.
And for the next years the queen and – after her abdication – her son will receive their royal representation fees of about ten+ million Euro per year. And the Dutch industry will know that she is worth every penny of it.

And Damen Schelde will sell its marine vessels to Oman. And of course the Oman government will never use the ships against their own citizens. They promised this to the Dutch government… They really did…

No comments:

Post a Comment