As we recover from the Emirates Melbourne Cup and read that the Dubai airline wants to double its Australian business to 84 flights a week while considering the United Arab Emirates wants to buy half of the Australian stevedoring duopoly, have you noticed what’s happening? The petrodollars are flowing again.

This time there’s no desperate Rex Connor standing by a telex machine, hoping to build a national gas pipeline out of Tirath Khemlani’s dodgy promises. (Nowadays that’s called infrastructure and there’s a batch of very rich investment banks playing the Khemlani role while governments fall over themselves in their rush to privatise the right to tax.)

No, this time round it is very different – the sheiks are doing it for themselves.

The UAE-owned Dubai Ports World is offering $7.1 billion for the 168-year-old Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company – alias P&O – in just the latest waving of the petrodollar wallet. In March there was the $1.9 billion purchase of The Tussauds Group by state-owned Dubai International Capital. Tussauds, Europe’s largest operator of visitor attractions, was Dubai’s second high-profile investment this year after a $1.25 billion plunge on DaimlerChrysler stock.

Dubai Ports could have a fight on its hands against several other bidders for P&O now that it’s started the auction, but snaring a name so redolent of the former British empire would be a rich symbol for the sheiks. And there are plenty more to come.

The economic management of most OPEC member states has matured a great deal since the flashy excesses of the 1970s oil shocks. European luxury goods manufacturers are again smiling, but this time round there’s a lot more money being invested more wisely.

Research by Goldman Sachs economists in September pointed to Europe being the main recipient of recycled petrodollars – and there are a lot of them. The key Arabian Gulf oil producers’ collective current account surplus should more than double this year to around $US200 billion – about 20 per cent of their GDP.

The oil price rise has already sent Gulf State equity and real estate bubbles into overdrive, making just about any asset outside their own backyards look cheap. The Goldman Sachs report noted that the weighted average P/E ratio of the Saudi stock market was almost 40 (ours is about 15) – and that was two months ago. A modest Abu Dhabi oil and gas services start up seeking $135 million in its initial public offering closed 800 times oversubscribed – an incredible $110 billion in applications.

If we had a forward-looking and intelligent government that wasn’t consumed by following US foreign and domestic policy, Australia could do nicely out of making those recycled petrodollars feel welcome here in various productive capacities.

We certainly have the ability to do business in the region – just look at the great track record of AWB.