Shifting power in Asia: Inside the Pakistani port town China is using to build its ‘own Dubai’

For millennia, the bay of Gwadar was the preserve of a handful of fishermen, its perfect habour offering access to nothing but the infamous wasteland where Alexander the Great saw his army die of thirst. 

Now this small fishing town is the center of a strategic gambit as ambitious as anything attempted by Alexander – and the lynch pin of an alliance between Pakistan and China that could up-end the entire balance of power in the Indian Ocean. 

“It is going to be like Dubai,” said captain Gul Mohammed, a friendly, British-trained master mariner during a boat trip beneath the grey, science-fiction set cliffs framing the bay earlier this month. “Sure, its ambitious. But they’ll do it.”

Capt Muhammed,…

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