British banks and Dubai
Even if all these loans had to be written off - and it's entirely possible that write-offs will be zero - those losses can be absorbed by banks and other lenders.
In the UK, for example, the Financial Services Authority built into its estimates of how much capital our banks need to raise the very high probability that loans to Dubai would go bad.
To provide a bit of context, Royal Bank of Scotland has raised considerably more equity capital - via the unconventional route of the Treasury's Asset Protection Scheme - than the total value of all the debt whose value has been impaired by Dubai World's announcement of a standstill on payments.
So too - via its rights issue and debt conversion - has Lloyds.
That said, British banks are more exposed than most to the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the economy built on sand, or rather excessive debt.
According to the authoritative statistics of the Bank for International Settlements, UK banks have lent around $50bn to the UAE, more than 40% of all bank lending to the UAE.
So Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Standard Chartered and HSBC would wince in the event that there was contagion from Dubai World to other UAE borrowers. But the pain would be bearable.
The importance of the Dubai sandstorm is psychological and emotional.
It reminds investors that the world's rich countries are only mid-way through the workout - the rescheduling and repayment - of their excessive debts.
And also that there are three big looming uncertainties that have to be resolved before we can say that its business as usual:
1) How will the world's banks cope as they are weaned off the $15 trillion dollars of exceptional assistance they have been provided by us, by taxpayers (in the form of loans, guarantees and investment)?
2) Where will asset prices - property, shares and bonds - settle, as and when central banks cease creating new money and raise interest rates to more normal levels?
3) Will heavily indebted countries - like Dubai, or Greece, or Ireland, or even the UK - reduce their debts fast enough to retain the confidence of creditors, but not so fast as to precipitate further recessions?
Some will be tempted to see Dubai and the UAE as the canary in the coalmine.
That will not please the richest of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi - that's not a badge it would wish to wear.
Which is why British officials are convinced that within the next few days, there will be a statement from Abu Dhabi that it will honour the external debts of Dubai.
I assume their optimism is more than wishful thinking.