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06 December, 2004

Arab media relations

As George Clooney and a large Hollywood crew filmed scenes for CIA/oil/terror blockbuster Syriana in the Dubai desert, they were interrupted by police who rode over the dunes, ordering them to stop filming. When the director asked what the hell was going on, he was told the directive came from senior dishdash Jamal bin Jamal.

Apparently bin Jamal had taken it upon himself to read some of the script, and decided he didn't like it. "This is not the way we plan the future image of Dubai" was his apparent complaint.

A furious West v East phonecall later, and filming was back on track.

Another typical experience is reported by a Syrian TV producer commissioned to make a TV ad for some clueless sheikhly dishdash. When the sheikh saw the final cut, he said he didn't like it at all.

"What exactly don't you like?" the producer asked him. "The editing, the cinematography, the music, the talent?"

"None of it, I don't like any of it," the sheikh complained.

"But what part? What do you want changed?"

"All of it. Change everything. Change the whole thing."

The producer asked him what timeframe he could have to redo the ad from scratch. "By today," the sheikh commanded.

The producer said fine, but he would need three hours. The sheikh reluctantly agreed. The producer went and put his feet up and had a smoke, and three hours later showed the sheikh the untouched TVC. The sheikh was delighted.

"Yes - this is perfect - this is what I like," he said. "Now you understand my opinion, what is in my head."

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