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16 June, 2005

Caught in the middle

Most of the modern generation of ruling Sheikhs are impressively educated, intelligent, and reformist. So it is no surprise to see the UAE Interior Minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al Nahyan, instantly ordering Sharjah's bumbling police force to scrap its arrest warrant against a local newspaper reporter. He also instructed UAE police departments to draw up a proper mechanism to deal with cases against journalists.

Dubai: A Gulf News reporter was detained at Dubai International Airport yesterday and prevented from travelling to Greece on an official visit following an arrest warrant issued by Sharjah police.

Sharjah police had earlier warned Bassma Al Jandaly, staff reporter, and Duraid Al Baik, UAE Editor, over an article published in February about a man who was stabbing women in Sharjah.

The problem in the UAE is with middle men. Editors frequently complain of constant harrassment by those purporting to represent the interests of some royal or other, when in fact they are usually acting expressly against that person's wishes. Nearly every government minister has repeatedly called for more transparency and a tougher press.

But the lowlier dishdashes, civil servants and assorted retinue members feel it is their role to scrabble around and interfere, erroneously believing it will somehow curry favour with their patron to quash a story or bully someone into buttoning their lip.

Quite the reverse. It is nothing more than a huge national - and often international - embarrassment for the rulership here when these third-world style insta-kangaroo-court type actions take place. As Sheikh Saif himself says, there is an urgent need to "curb aggressive behaviour" against the media.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, with the new found riches, the new generation of sheikhs are well educated and have broader views... even in Qatar this phenomenon is evident. For the first time in Qatar, if not in the middle ease, a pro-active human rights council is in existence... things can only get better from here I suppose.

17 June, 2005 19:44  

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