You would have thought it would be the creditors, not the debtors, who hold the balance of power after a company financially melts down.
But in the case of Dubai developer Nakheel, which owes an estimated $10.5bn largely to contractors after its projects ground to a halt in the wake of the emirates’ near-collapse in November 2009, the boot is still largely on the same foot.
UK consultants, owed around £250m by Nakheel, seem unable even to whisper a word of criticism in public about Nakheel, let alone shout at them for their money back.
Any critical comments over the developers’ painfully slow repayment process in this week’s news analysis were strictly off the record.
Privately, people are extremely angry and confidence has been hit badly, but few who want to get paid or see themselves working in Dubai again can speak out.
A tribunal in the UAE has been set up to deal with Nakheel’s creditors, but the first claimant came forward at the end of September, well after most UK companies are thought to have agreed to Nakheel’s plan.
Those owed little or nothing can afford to speak their mind. Rod MacDonald, chairman of Buro Happold, told Nakheel chief executive Chris O’Donnell that he “could have been a little more apologetic or a bit more thankful to the companies that have been funding his business for the past two years” when he explained the developer’s plans to UK firms in October.
Others were far more deferential – and unless firms can afford to do burn their bridges with Dubai, they will continue to keep quiet.