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21 March, 2005

Bye bye Bedu, Bedu bye bye

The English editor of a Saudi corporate magazine recently commissioned an article on: "Saudi desert culture - how the peaceful life of the bedouin influences Saudi society today."

Having composed a similar whitewash for the same publication some months back on the "excellent and emancipated" status of Saudi women, this was an easy job: delving into Bernard Lewis's The Middle East, and rewriting excerpts such as:

"the destructive inroads of the bedouin" "the depradations of the unleashed Bedouin" "when the nomads came out of the desert into the cultivated land... the result was an extension of the desert at the expense of the sown"


"With the peaceful spread of Islam, the bedouins migrated further throughout North Africa, introducing their unique way of life to other peoples."

The English editorial team gave full approval. But when the text reached translation stage, every instance of the word "bedouin" or "bedu" was removed, because: "Saudis do not want to have any association with the bedouin."

Then the article went to the Arabic editors, where it was instantly and entirely spiked, on the grounds that - despite inhabiting the world's largest desertfied landmass - "Saudis do not want to have any association with the desert." A separate feature on camel husbandry went likewise straight to the knacker's yard.

The magazine was eventually filled with an eight-page photospread of a Sheikhly personage visiting a factory.

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Blogger Keef said...

(sounds like) Bankers?

30 March, 2005 00:09  

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