Aerial view of Dubai from the Deira old Dubai side in Dubai, UAE July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Satish Kumar
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Anyone wanting to gauge U.S. President Donald Trump's success in isolating Iran would do well to study the menu at Maryam Sharifi's restaurant in Dubai.The Homa Iranian eatery's changing fortunes highlight the UAE's crucial role in enforcing U.S. sanctions on Iran, a historic trade partner situated a short sail across the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entrance to the world's oil-exporting nexus.Restricting old trading routes like this one, however, deprives Iran of the hard-to-track commerce that helped it survive earlier sanctions regimes.Commerce between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, comprised of Dubai and six other sheikhdoms, jumped to $22 billion in 2017 from $18 billion the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was implemented.UAE authorities began enforcing restrictions on trade with Iran before the first U.S. sanctions snapped back in August.Dubai's trade with Iran existed long before it joined the UAE.It's not just proximity that explains Dubai's commercial importance to Iran.While Dubai retained its trading links with Shiite Muslim Iran, the UAE's capital Abu Dhabi long viewed it with the antipathy common in other Sunni-led monarchies.A deeper alliance with Saudi Arabia and Trump's confrontational policies toward Iran hardened the UAE stance.
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