The idea for this debate emerged in conversations and e-mails over the past week with officials in Dubai. It appears to have the unofficial blessing of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid, the emirate's ruler. Dubai's leaders "realize the importance of such an idea and are ready to receive the candidates and organize the event," one senior official told me.
There is, of course, no chance that it would actually happen. I'm not aware of any case where presidential candidates for any country any have held a debate outside of their home nation, American voters (most of whom, sadly, can't even find Dubai on a world map) would likely find such a spectacle confusing and off-putting, and the logistics with arranging such an event - travel, security, media set-up, not to mention the time difference - are overwhelming. But I do think it is a novel and even worthy idea. What better place than Dubai, after all, to discuss crucial regional issues such as America's future in Iraq, its relationship with Iran, the fight against terrorism or its dependence on Middle Eastern petroleum? Ignatius thinks it's a good idea, too:
I hope that McCain and Obama will think seriously about these unofficial feelers from Dubai. The Middle East is a mess, sad to say, and dealing with the problems of that part of the world will be job one for the next president. We Americans like to talk about the miracle of our democracy, but putting that democratic process on the road would make it real for billions of people.
I especially like the idea of Iranians watching on satellite TV as Obama and McCain debate the future a few miles away across the Gulf. Now that would be good political theater.
(hat tip: UAE Community Blog)