The arms trade has disastrous impacts the world over, and has even managed to show its ugly head in Oxford in the guise of the Said Business school. Oxford Universities new Business school opened in 2001 was mostly funded by Wafiq Said, a Syrian with links to arms dealing who fronted £20 million of the £45 million needed to build the school.
Most of the Said fortune is said to come from arms deals most notoriously the ‘Al Yamamah’ deal in 1986; worth around $31 billion over 10 years it is said to be one of the biggest arms deals of all time. Wafiq Said helped broker the deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia, admitting that ‘I benefited because the program led to construction in Saudi Arabia that involved my companies’. He gained directly from the deal as well because companies like BAe paid him for ‘helping this company fulfil its obligations in the middle east and Saudi Arabia in particular’. According to an award winning BBC dispatches documentary it included fighter planes and electro-shock battens used to torture political dissidents. The UK government turned a blind eye to the fact that they were directly benefiting a country which is renound for its human rights abuses especially in the area of criminal justice: see http://www.hrw.org/mideast/saudiarabia.php For more info on Wafiq Said see: http://www.meib.org/articles/0302-sd.htm
Despite all this the University of Oxford still felt able to accept Said’s donation to build a new business school in oxford on the site of the old railway station dating from 1850. Mr Said’s political connections with the UK were used to override the lengthy enquiry procedure normally done with such a sensitive planning application in 1996. Wafiq Said said ‘I hope to help enhance Britain’s competitiveness’. Multiple controversies around his donation resulted in a long protest struggle in Oxford details of which can be found at http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/news/said-buisness-school.html .
Said tried used Blood money from the arms trade in an acceptable manner for educational purposes (do I really need to point out the hypocrisy?), and discredited Oxford University a large part of what our town is based on. BAE TAG and a host of other weapons companies involved in the ‘Al Yamamah’ arms deal will be exhibiting at DSEI this September.
Look out for info on this site about a future public meeting in Oxford about how you can join in the protest against this monstrosity.