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03 March, 2006

Ports in a storm

One of the interesting side effects of the furore over the P&O takeover by Dubai Ports - which has been sheer pull-up-a-deckchair-in-glee time for most outside observers, surely none more so than losing rival PSA and any non-Bush supporters - is the realisation that Dubai (and the UAE) will face increasing criticism and scrutiny as it becomes an international player.

We often laud "progress" in the sandlands press, but the truth of the matter is that the censorship situation here is pathetic by western standards. One of the reasons tyrants and despots can rule elsewhere in the region quite happily is because it is forbidden to criticise them, according to Chapter 7 Article 76 of the UAE publications law:

"No article blemishing the president of an Arab, Islamic or any other friendly state will be published."

How very convenient for Saddam Hussein and anyone else choosing to rule through violence and oppression: silence and tolerance by their neighbours.

What the UAE is likely to find particularly hard to stomach, as its own papers churn out endless glowing tributes to progress and the "wise vision of the leadership" is the fact that international media is not constrained by Chapter 7 Article 70:

"No criticism shall be made against the Head of State or Rulers of the Emirates"

Which is why the sandlands should expect to see many more articles like Slate's How United Are the United Arab Emirates - Why some emirates are more important than others - currently an unthinkable topic in a UAE local paper. Perhaps it's time to grow up, open up, and take it on the chin.

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76 Comments:

Blogger nzm said...

I'm impressed that Daniel Engber almost got correct his spelling of all 7 emirates!

It isn't just the censorship that will come under scrutiny, it will be the entire dealings of the UAE.

Any failures or shortcomings (as seen by the western world) will be loudly lauded in every media avenue that they can use. We all know how good the press can be at portraying anything in a bad light.

If some people don't like the (often perceived) negativity of some of the bloggers, just wait until the world press gets going - it will be "no holds barred". At the moment all we get are reporters coming here on all-expenses-paid junkets to write about how wonderful everything is. The next wave will be those who come as independents or on behalf of their publications to write about what they can find wrong with it - and there will be some who will be well paid to find the dirt.

Etisalat may be able to block the UAE residents from the truth, but it can't block the rest of the world from seeing it, and while the UAE is attempting to attract foreign investment, how the country is portrayed should greatly matter to everyone.

03 March, 2006 14:47  
Blogger grinch said...

I'm choosing to ignore Balushi's rant above.

Nice post SD, and while I agree with you that Dubai's (and the other emirates') rulers are going to have to learn to take it on the chin I don't see it making an awful lot of difference. Until the local press begins to publish reactions like these rather than the usual laudings of anything sandlandish, UAE residents who don't choose to check outside media - (and there are a lot of them, of all nationalities, who enjoy living blissfully in the 'bubble') - will remain none the wiser of the other side of the coin.
What is needed is for the local press to feel secure enough to, impartially, show both sides of a story. Until that happens it really only functions as advertorial propaganda.

03 March, 2006 14:55  
Blogger Balushi said...

what the hell happened to my post???


since we are at it Where is my freedom of expression secy????

03 March, 2006 15:11  
Blogger Balushi said...

secy, why did you deleted my post????


now i can't even re-think what i said!!!!


Please un-do the delete.

03 March, 2006 15:26  
Blogger sheikha cheryl said...

he sounds a little mad and frustrated. poor guy!

03 March, 2006 16:09  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

I'm not sure why non-Bush supporters would be looking on with glee. Bush has been one of the rare voices of sanity coming from the US government on this issue.

03 March, 2006 17:02  
Blogger Neha said...

The non-Bushies are having a field day with this issue due to how the Bush admin seems to have fallen into its own trap of fear mongering. If the deal had gone through before the boundaries of "with us" vs. "against us" were drawn then this kind of narrow-minded & prejudiced public outcry would not have been as widespread.

Thanks for highlighting the need for open public discourse in the Emirates, SD.

03 March, 2006 19:09  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

We may not agree what the shortcomings of the Bush admin are. The one that's beginning to bug me more is that they were caught unprepared for the attack on the ports deal. Fearful people react to any change in their environment, especially unexplained change.

03 March, 2006 19:36  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

nzm writes:

all we get are reporters coming here on all-expenses-paid junkets to write about how wonderful everything is

Yes, although most of those sorts of stories are located in the travel section written by writers masquerading as reporters, you can see even news reporters censoring themselves presumably to ensure continued access to a source.

If you think about what Etisilat does, it finds itself as the conduit for material that could violate the sections of the law SD quoted. So it is not so much actually keeping the negative reporting out, any more than it can keep those outside from reading what is reported about the UAE.

Rather it is following the tactic that respect for the law would be undercut if the monopoly ISP didn't at least try to enforce it.

03 March, 2006 19:58  
Blogger Papadose said...

"You see, when you're single, you are the dictator of your own life. I have complete power. I can give the order to fall asleep on the sofa with the TV on in the middle of the day, no-one can overrule me! When you're married, you're part of a vast decision-making body. Before anything gets done there are meetings.
Committees have to study the situation. And this is if the marriage works. That's what's so painful
about divorce: you get impeached and you're not even the president!" - Seinfeld Episode 4.62

03 March, 2006 22:56  
Blogger Mohamed Elzubeir said...

I don't know if Bush is the sound of sanity in the ports deal. The problem is not with America allowing foreign companies manage their ports. It is the problem of a foreign _state_owned_ company doing so. This is a whole other story there. Would you allow a foreign government have anything to do with access to your country if you could help it?

This is not saying that I am not for DP World to continue with the deal they have made. I'm just saying tha tI can understand what the big deal is -- though it took me a while to see it that way.

04 March, 2006 00:22  
Blogger aPPlewEEd said...

Hey SD,

I see you've been having a problem with comments on your blog recently. You should give Wordpress (www.wordpress.org) a shot. Especially since you have your own domain etc.

Gimme a shout if you need some help..
appleweed@gmail.com

04 March, 2006 02:03  
Blogger UaE MaX said...

what holds UAE together against any foreign interference, although its the only country in the region without any kind of election, is the support of its own ppl. the majority agree with what the government is doing and wish no changes in terms of political democracy and journalist freedom.
and even if they do, they dont like to say it in front of the whole world, they prefer to discuss it directly with the rulers or law makers. because the relationship between the government and its people is more like a family.

however, the government is evolving to the better and will continue to do so at its bass. radical unstudied changes fail most of time, iraq and afghanistan r the biggest example of that.

04 March, 2006 05:53  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

uae max - Good points. Especially since I agree in the case of the uae.

04 March, 2006 06:52  
Blogger Transparent Soul said...

UAE max, I totally agree with you.
I dont care less of the "western standards", this is not the west, and I am local and I support my government who as you said continues to evolve and do better.
But it seems that our ways just don't suit some of our dear guests, I guess the only thing that they can do is to adjust if they want to live here.

04 March, 2006 08:31  
Blogger al-republican said...

testing

04 March, 2006 09:16  
Blogger al-republican said...

SD-

I thought your blog was supposed to be non-serious, but it seems the bias inside you, which is quite natural for any writer, is becoming quite prominent. You are definitely losing a lot of credibility.

Anyways, I agree with the locals who point out that they are happy with the standards that have been put in place by their rulers.

I just hope that Muslims around the World are learning a lesson with these occurences. It is odd that Western "values" and practices had played a big role in dividing us, but now the ulterior motives of these "values" are becoming a reason for us to unite.

In sha Allah, the day is not far when this nation of 1.6 billion people will get their acts together and stand up for what we believe in and start forcing our standards and values on a people who have lost all of theirs.

04 March, 2006 09:30  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I thought your blog was supposed to be non-serious, but it seems the bias inside you, which is quite natural for any writer, is becoming quite prominent. You are definitely losing a lot of credibility.

Being honest is losing me credibility?!

Here's what I'm biased towards: freedom, openness, enfranchisement. Here's what I'm biased against: censorship, personal morality enforcement (note the "personal" there - I'm not calling for public nudity to be tolerated, but I believe things like "adultery" should be decriminalised) and hereditary-based power systems, because they are not fair if human beings are supposed to be equal, which I belive they are.

I totally agree that the leaders here on the whole have so far been great, and that they enjoy popular support. A "benevolent dictatorship", as many have described it.

But ask yourself: what happens - not just here, but anywhere - if a country's leaders stop being benevolent? What options do the common people have to bring about change if they are not enfranchised?

04 March, 2006 09:41  
Blogger Balushi said...

Here's what I'm biased towards: freedom, openness, enfranchisement. Here's what I'm biased against: censorship, personal morality enforcement Secy



Look Who's Talking???


What happened to my posts???

04 March, 2006 10:01  
Blogger samuraisam said...

I'd tend to agree, the more international the UAE becomes, the more press it is going to be given, not all of it positive, and not all of it just about Dubai, about it's rulers, there are some stories floating around on the intarweb that no one would especially be proud of....
I can't see how people think this is unrealistic, it is a highly realistic view on what is going to happen.
Want Dubai to be the "happenin'" place? then you can't dismiss all foreign publications because they dish a bit of dirt.
Personally I'm all for totalitanarianism, democracy is boring, look at all the democratic countries compared to some good ole' ass beating countries.
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love. They had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock

Can anyone tell if i've lived in the middle east for too damn long?

04 March, 2006 10:57  
Blogger al-republican said...

SD-

You bring forward excellent points about aristocracy and dictatorships where people are left with no choice. If the ruler in such a place starts passing laws that will affect the public in a bad way, it really becomes a problem.

There is a lot of sense in what you say, in fact there is quite a bit of sense in some values the West preaches. But, sadly, Westerners fail to realize the priorities of affected Muslim youth.

Yes, we lack proper representation and hence we get very violent in protests burning effigies and all that abhorrent stuff. But, what really ticks us off is when we see the West talk about freedom and democracy and yet apply double-standards vis-a-vis their policies of backing such dictators and aristocracies. Musharraf, the King of Jordan, Abdullah, Hosni Mubarak et al are all cases in point.

And when the public speaks up and elects what the West terms as "terrorists" to power, suddenly freedom and democracy go down the drain. So we are damned if we do and damned if we dont!

Ariel Sharon is a bloody war criminal and a terrorist to us, but did you see Muslims go bonkers and stop talking to Israel once he was elected as PM? Whether we like it or not, the Jews of Israel elected Ariel Sharon to represent them, so why is it hard for the West to accept Hamas or the Islamic brotherhood in Egypt or the mullahs of Pakistan?

Apart from all political rant, please understand that for us Muslims, freedom of speech and other goody things are NOT a priority. We have huge issues like that of a homeland for the Palestinians, Kashmir, Chechnya and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. All of these problems are a fall out of British Imperialism or more recently that of American hegemony. Be sincere to yourself and think of the ROOT cause to all these problems. It has nothing to do with dictatorial regimes or the lack of freedom of press or veiled woman etc. These are foreign-inflicted problems and perhaps Afghanistan is the only problem that the West has a leg to stand on (which is why America got so much support for it in the first place).

Until we can fix these issues, freedom of press and other issues will just have to wait.

04 March, 2006 11:06  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

al-republican,

Agreed: This is the way I put it,

Kissinger's dictator's club. Better, America's dictator's club. Kissinger merely gave it an intellectual gloss. After all, the Taliban is the legacy of American policy. Saddam was for a time befriended by America. The rise of radical elements cannot be disassociated from a long history of American support for tainted regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Others will point to America's complicity in sustaining dictatorships in South America. All the result of a false hope in stability, a false hope that stability would effectively make the world beyond our borders safe to be ignored. As if dictatorship was an unfortunate byproduct of a necessary policy to make Americans safe.

Far from being an unfortunate byproduct, the free world's support for dictatorship in other corners of the world plants the seeds of its own destruction. And so does ignoring dictatorship. History ain't over.


(Whole post is here: The Emirates Economist.)

I rather strongly assert that the UAE fits the club of democracies here: The Emirates Economist

04 March, 2006 11:37  
Blogger al-republican said...

John Chilton-

Indeed dictatorial regimes are an American policy. Come to think of it, it is much easier to handle dictators rather than a democratically elected leader.

It is easier to handle one person (who isn't popularly elected) and who owes his existence as head of a state to the powers-that-be. When 9/11 happened, it would have been very inconvenient for America if Pakistan had a running democracy where the parliament would have taken its time to respond to Bush's 7 terms for Pakistan. Instead, they got immediate response from Musharraf and co-operation on all 7 point - a fact that stumped America itself as they thought Pakistan wouldnt agree to at least 3 of the 7 terms (Bob Woodward's, "Bush at War" highlights this).

In a one-man system, the ruler is not accountable to anybody so he doesn't have to take popular opinion into account. Most Pakistanis, post 9/11, did not want to let their land be used by the Americans to launch attacks on Afghanistan, but Musharraf went ahead and offered America unstinted co-operation on military fronts. Even now, we have bombings by the American airforce where Musharraf has no prior knowledge.

America sits pretty with these things as all the people can do is burn effigies of Bush. But, for a person like Musharraf, its a bit different. He has to pay a price for his services as a marrionette of the Americans - 4 attempts on his life, plus the everyday noise of the Pakistani population against his excesses.

So, I ask my western friends to remember who installed Hamid Karzai as head of Afghanistan and Jalal Talabani in Iraq? 25 years down the road if you lecture us that we have tyrant, aristocratic rulers who take away our freedom, please dont forget your contribution in this.

I know someone will come and say, "But, Karzai and Talabani were elected..." well, folks, you all know how fraudulent these "elections" are and can you be serious about holding elections in a country that is occupied by a foreign military against the UN's charter?

04 March, 2006 13:43  
Blogger secretdubai said...

al-republican - I don't disagree with you on most points. But you have to bear in mind when I criticise the "east", it doesn't imply per se that I think the "west" is perfect either. Many countries have clearly pro-semitic bias in their laws, ie the "holocaust denial" case. It's utterly hypocritical of the west to have these laws, no one could disagree.

Apart from all political rant, please understand that for us Muslims, freedom of speech and other goody things are NOT a priority.

Agreed - you want stability first. But as you point out, the playing field - rightly or wrongly (and frankly wrongly) - is a "western" one. With the US (unfairly) controlling and dictating world policy, either you negotiate on their terms, or you don't progress. This doesn't just apply to the Middle East, it applies to other western nations as well, unless they are able to form blocs powerful enough to have more leverage (the EU). Or you just have violent, bloody protests which worsen this region's image in world eyes.

You also have to move on from the endless "root cause" argument. Yes - we know the reasons why things are the way they are. But that doesn't change anything. It's about growing up and accepting blame, you can't play the victim card forever, it gets you nowhere.

And I say this as someone who abhors the US's racist, biased policies in the Middle East. Don't think I'm on "their" side over this, because I'm sure as hell not.

It has nothing to do with dictatorial regimes or the lack of freedom of press or veiled woman etc.

But you see it does. It means that organisations such as the taliban can come in and entirely fuck up a country and brutalise its people (Afghanistan) because no one criticises them. It means people can be arrested/jailed/executed for trying to debate valid issues and call for reforms in their corrupt countries (Saudi) on things such as trumped up blashphemy charges. It means there is no real open debate about Shariah law, because if you disagree with the wrong mullah, you can get accused of heresy.

What the recent violent protests did - over something that happened in a foreign, sovereign nation - was make the west (including me) think this:

"There is no bloody way at this point in time we want to give any more voice or power to theocrats, within or without our borders. On the contrary, we in fact need to increase our legislation to protect ourselves and prevent their further interference."

Which is really not going to help things here. Blocking .il - what is the point of that? Why do they do it? Pride, immaturity, sheer bloody-mindedness.

04 March, 2006 15:31  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

The non-Bushies are having a field day with this issue due to how the Bush admin seems to have fallen into its own trap of fear mongering.

Protectionism and a suspicion of foreigners predates Bush by, what? About 200 years?

04 March, 2006 16:23  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

what holds UAE together against any foreign interference, although its the only country in the region without any kind of election, is the support of its own ppl.

Up to a point, I agree. But the UAE still outsources protection from foreign interference to the United States, which in turn brings foreign interference of a different kind. The first Gulf War was a stark reminder about how the ultimate security of most Gulf States is guaranteed by the USA, and a potential nuclear Iran might demonstrate this once again.

04 March, 2006 16:28  
Blogger grinch said...

Al republican - palestine, kashmir, I see your point - but it's the first time that I've ever heard anyone manage to blame "british imperialism" for Chechnya...

04 March, 2006 16:30  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

We have huge issues like that of a homeland for the Palestinians, Kashmir, Chechnya and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. All of these problems are a fall out of British Imperialism or more recently that of American hegemony.

I'm curious to hear about Britain's or the USA's role in Chechnya. Care to fill me in?

04 March, 2006 16:31  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

04 March, 2006 16:33  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

well, folks, you all know how fraudulent these "elections" are and can you be serious about holding elections in a country that is occupied by a foreign military against the UN's charter?

Well, no. There are a good many who believe that the elections were not fraudulent and that the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is not against the UN's charter. The UN is indeed one such body holding this opinion.

04 March, 2006 16:35  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Indeed dictatorial regimes are an American policy.

Yes, along with the policy of pretty much every other superpower that has existed. The USSR, for example, were not exactly shy about installing dictatorial regimes, who then went on to buthcer their own people and invade their neighbours.

04 March, 2006 16:37  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

The rise of radical elements cannot be disassociated from a long history of American support for tainted regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

It cannot be disassociated from a long history of Soviet support in the Middle East either, but few people care to remember that.

04 March, 2006 16:40  
Blogger al-republican said...

Firstly, I mentioned Chechnya as it is an outstanding issue. Perhaps I should have been more careful and mentioned it in another statement. But, by implication it looks like it is accepted that the other problems are the child of British-American influence in this part of the World.

Secondly, Tim Newman, you keep retorting to the argument that "...the Soviets did it, too..." I hope you see how you are comparing your nation's deeds to a has-been evil empire. It gives more credibility to my assertion that American hegemony is at its blatant worst and there is not a damn thing anyone is doing about it (except for the Muslims, albeit there are some states - not Muslim - who are playing this game a little more obscurely). Just like Soviet expansionism met its eventual end, American hegemony will run out of gas (quite literally, too) pretty soon, in sha Allah.

Finally, to SD: I see where your worries are. Clearly people aren't too well-versed with the Islamic Sharee'ah. Yes, it does preach some things that the Western (eastern, too, actually) person would find deplorable, but you will find in these laws some very enlightening aspects, which if you only knew, you would want to embrace at the earliest! The debate is long; perhaps we can leave this for another time.

I also see how you invoked the case of the Taliban. Again, there are a lot of misconceptions flying around about them. I must admit I was not their "favorite number 1" (as one local newspaper would say!) fan, but a lot of what they did was done for a REASON. I would love to go over it systematically - one issue at a time - but again it would require a separate thread.

Let me just conclude by saying that the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is our CONSTITUTION. It is sad some Muslims these days wouldn't agree to this statement of mine. We accept it with all its harshness and all its Mercy. It is the Divine Word of God and we are absolutely convinced about that. We invite every objective-minded person to come forward and study it for themselves. As the Qur'an itself commands us about the laws of God:

And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. (Quran 3:103)

So we will hold onto our beliefs and our way of life (be it governance, marriage, inheritance or any other law) no matter how disgusting anyone may find it. Like I said, the invitation is there to study this religion and find out more about the Prophet of Islam and perhaps you all could understand our stand much better.

04 March, 2006 17:33  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

In sha Allah, the day is not far when this nation of 1.6 billion people will get their acts together and stand up for what we believe in and start forcing our standards and values on a people who have lost all of theirs.

Al - Republican: what are you talking about? The Muslim Umma forcing its values on the infidels? Get a grip.

04 March, 2006 17:51  
Blogger archer14 said...

@ al-republican

"I also see how you invoked the case of the Taliban. Again, there are a lot of misconceptions flying around about them. I must admit I was not their "favorite number 1" (as one local newspaper would say!) fan, but a lot of what they did was done for a REASON. I would love to go over it systematically - one issue at a time - but again it would require a separate thread."

Yes, they are fantastic reasons. Such as shooting babies, chopping women's feet, blowing up historical statues, denying women every fundamental right - even the right to exist, public lynchings, imprisoning men without beards, raping virgins who're charged with 'heinous' crimes before hanging them...the list is endless. There are NO bloody misconceptions. You should be ashamed of yourself. All your ruminations about general people-forgot-about-the-coup musharraf (who's also an avid taliban supporter), 'terrorist' Ariel Sharon, the benevolent Hamas was something only a lunatic would argue about. But you being a fan of the Taliban...what next? Your role model is Hitler? You should provide David Irving some much needed company.

Well, henceforth, you needn't go at length to prove any warped points your mind has conjured in that ever-beautiful world of yours. I hope someone shows you the light before you become into one of those people whom you fundamentally sympathise with yet deny - to get your point across. A fucking terrorist.

04 March, 2006 18:04  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Secondly, Tim Newman, you keep retorting to the argument that "...the Soviets did it, too..." I hope you see how you are comparing your nation's deeds to a has-been evil empire.

In a discussion about how America is to blame for the present day effects of its foreign policy conducted from 1945 until now, it is vitally important to consider the entire geopolitical situation at the time, i.e. how and why the US acted the way it did.

Given that the US foreign policy which is under attack (namely its support for friendly dictators and interference in the Middle East) occurred almost entirely in the context of the Cold War in which it was engaged in countering an agressive and expansionist nuclear-armed Soviet Union, I think it is ludicrous to lambast the US for each and every policy in isolation of the main context under which it was executed.

To do so is like discussing the US invasion of Italy in 1943 without mentioning Germany, or considering it in isolation of WWII.

US policy during the Cold War was wrong in many cases; but many of the problems the region faces today is a result of either Soviet policies, or US reaction to those Soviet policies, and not a result of the US deciding to carry out policy X or Y simply because it felt like it.

04 March, 2006 18:04  
Blogger al-republican said...

yoI wanted to add something previously, but it just slipped my mind. I wanted to highlight the enlightenment of Islamic Law as per the hot topic these days: democracy.

There is a chapter in the Qur'an called "Ash-Shura" that means (loosely) "consultation" or "coming to a conclusion based on consensus". It talks a bit about how Muslims are to elect people as their leaders. Quite surely enough, after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his companions elected his successor by process of ELECTION (as opposed to succession going down his family). The next 3 Caliphs were also elected by process of a parliament of representatives/companions who voted for the leader of the Muslim nation.

Clearly Muslims have left this legacy and now we have to be taught this by Westerners who have only started pratcising this very late!

04 March, 2006 18:10  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

We invite every objective-minded person to come forward and study it for themselves.

Objective minds have done so, and reached the conclusion that it is nothing more than a fairy tale.

Furthermore, they believe those who demand on pain of jail or death totalitarian or even mild adherence to this fairy tale viewpoint should be opposed with the same determination as history's other totalitarianist ideas - Nazism and Communism - were opposed.

For what it's worth, you can safely count me in with those who I describe above.

04 March, 2006 18:11  
Blogger trobriander said...

SD,

I totally agree with the facts that freedom, openness, and personal morality enforcement are mankind virtue at all times. None of the mentioned is to be considered ‘archived’ issue pending further action – even if we sound naïve!

However, the popular media is not as simple as opening a website. For example the majority in the ME is tuned into their TV sets for source of news and entertainment (families & friends sit in front of the TV conversing, eating, laughing etc.)

But then not every one has Murdoch’s luxury of waking up and thinking of buying the ITV or the Times to reach broader audience! The money spent to make a single source of info ‘well-heard’ could run up to millions of Euros. Take Al Hura TV – 100% US government financed. The Bush admin spent a fortunate to make their voice heard. Therefore the ‘good’ media is always in the hands of the most powerful, which bring us to the national security as well as the taboo issues. The US media is one of the pathetic examples in this respect. There are cases where American columnists had to leave the US for writing ‘lefty’ or tabooed articles. Many Canadians writers are banned to enter the US for so-called communism affiliation.

The media business is riddled with psyops tools and government links as well as takeovers – Fox, Al Hura, Al Arabya & Al Jazeera are living examples.

Also, if there is a major proxy force crafting the region’s future, then it is wiser to piggyback on the same to make your ideas heard!!!!

04 March, 2006 18:11  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

There are cases where American columnists had to leave the US for writing ‘lefty’ or tabooed articles. Many Canadians writers are banned to enter the US for so-called communism affiliation.

I'm intrigued. Please can you give me the names of those journalists forced to leave the US, or banned from entering, and give us details of their cases. The reason I ask is that I believe what you have written to be utterly false.

04 March, 2006 18:18  
Blogger secretdubai said...

So we will hold onto our beliefs and our way of life (be it governance, marriage, inheritance or any other law) no matter how disgusting anyone may find it.

What I find - not "disgusting", that's too strong a word, but "wrong" or "inappropriate" - is the imposition of beliefs. For example everyone should be allowed to hold the belief that adultery is wrong, or head-uncovering is wrong, or alcohol is wrong.

But they shouldn't be able to force that belief or its practice on others, even other muslims.

It needs to be up to the individual person to make their own personal choices. Guidance: fine. Encouragement: fine. Coercion/prosecution: not fine.

It doesn't *mean* anything if someone covers their head through fear, or because they have to, it doesn't make them a better person, it just means they are living in fear. It's only if someone chooses to practice something out of free choice and personal volition that it becomes something of moral worth.

Self-discipline, modesty, temperance: these things may be difficult to learn, but it can be done.

"coming to a conclusion based on consensus"

I have spoken with fairly learned muslims who have told me that the quran is written in such a way that everything is open to debate and revision to suit the appropriate time. ie that determining shariah law is supposed to be a continual process, not something set in stone hundreds of years ago and never challenged. And that this debate itself is a good thing.

But many of these same muslims literally cannot express this view through fear of being deemed heretic. I know a journalist in Pakistan that received death threats when he even broached the topic.

This is what the west "fears" about Islam - random fatwas from (quite honestly) lunatic rogue mullahs to try and crush free and open debate. Witness Salman Rushdie. Where is the mercy, where is the peace?

If Islam is ever to gain greater political sway in the west it has to contain the reactionary urges of its (minority) violent members. At the moment, this is not seen to be happening to a sufficient extent.

04 March, 2006 18:24  
Blogger el condo said...

The main reason for the major divide between (Middle) East and West is that Middle Eastern peoples identify themselves primarily by their religion, rather than by nationality or geographical boundaries. In recent times this type of thinking has been bought into by the West as well, where Western leaders begin to see people in the Middle East primarily via the predominant religion.

This is why, when debates are carried on regarding regional international issues (i.e., between two separate regions) we hear people speak in terms of "us Muslims" in repect of the countries or regions they represent. There may be people of other religious persuasions living in those countries (e.g., Jordan or Egypt), but they are generally disregarded or considered as being of no significance. Any Muslims living in the West, as nationals of those countries, are also considered as non-existent, in the "Us (Muslims) vs them (West)" approach.

Unfortunately, this is not an accurate way of looking at things, as Muslims are spread all over the world (as evident from the frequent references to the figure 1.6 billion) and do not all live in the Middle East or represent the Middle East. The Muslims in India, for instance, represent India and owe their loyalty to that nation, just as the Muslims in America represent their country and owe their loyalty to their flag and constitution (while at all times having the right to dissent with the actions or policies of their government , of course).

As such, using the term "us Muslims" frequently in debates of this nature can be quite misleading and should be clearly understood to not really mean what it implies. For example, not all the population of "this nation of 1.6 billion" (the nation being?) would be keen on enforcing their beliefs or laws on others (although even at this time individual attempts are being made, as in Denmark). As such one shares Keefieboy's incredulity.

04 March, 2006 18:26  
Blogger Balushi said...

what is the point in talking so much?????



When you dont know WHO are you talking too!!!!

04 March, 2006 18:30  
Blogger trobriander said...

This is what the west "fears" about Islam - random fatwas from (quite honestly) lunatic 'rogue' mullahs to try and crush free and open debate.

SD,

I guess if they are 'OK' Mullahs then they could become handy such as the Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani!!

04 March, 2006 19:14  
Blogger grinch said...

@ Al Republican - "Clearly Muslims have left this legacy [Elections] and now we have to be taught this by Westerners who have only started pratcising this very late!"

Silly me, I could have sworn that democracy and elections originated in Ancient Greece some two and a half thousand years ago? I must be mistaken....

04 March, 2006 20:36  
Blogger trobriander said...

This is one of the misconceptions about drawing a history line of where did the west – east commence. If some believe the Greeks are the source of all western values, then the Mesopotamians & the old Egyptians can have a claim too for being the core source of enlightenment to the ancient Greeks before their existence. And later the Arabs translated most of the Greek philosophers’ writings, amongest others, before they were transferred safely to Spain where they Europeans used them in their newborn schools. So in a way many civilizations have contributed into the Greek ideas.

04 March, 2006 21:44  
Blogger Transparent Soul said...

SD please rescue the Emirates..you are our Hero..please please please..
Give us a break will you

04 March, 2006 22:45  
Blogger Mohamed Elzubeir said...

Muslims never practiced democracy. An election is not to be held by elite members of an elite group. al-republican, if indeed the first 4 caliphs were elected, why were they all fighting? And why was it dicated that they must come from a specific tribe? Puhlleease.

Shura is consultation and does not imply concensus. It simply means, get advice. Sure, every leader has advisors around him/her.

In fact, the current state of mulism politics is due to the lack of a clear system of succession, dating back to the death first caliph.

04 March, 2006 22:50  
Blogger the shadow said...

OK, enough intellectual dissection of the myriad dilemas of Islamic government in the Postmodern World(AGAIN?!)...

Back on to the Ports topic:

The tidal wave of DP World related criticism is refreshing even if alot of the underlying assumptions are pretty whimsical alot of the time. The only thorny thing is that it has has to be kind of embarrassing how the UAE has effectively been outed as being a US protectorate. Good thing nobody's found out about the RAK camel molestation yet!

Anyhow, surely any negative effects are miniscule compared to all the free PR buzz Dubai is getting around the world...even Jay Leno has been helping out. In the end, when you're hoping to transition to a tourist-based economy, what could be better than getting everybody talking about you for FREE? Even if it's not all totally flattering it all helps to build a genuine MYSTIQUE around Dubai, which is something money can't buy.

As far as the government of Dubai is concerned, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, as the saying goes.

05 March, 2006 00:47  
Blogger samuraisam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

05 March, 2006 00:52  
Blogger al-republican said...

There are too many questions, dogmatic idiosyncracies, and an apparant attitude of not wanting to listen to the other side. So, it will serve no purpose trying to clarify my points. Like Imam Shafi'i (a Muslim Jurisprudic scholar) once said, arguing with arrogant and ignorant people always ends up making oneself look like a fool! I just see objectivity by SD and a couple of other folks, but there really is no point to this.

I would like to, however, point out a few things to Mr. El-Zubeir:

1- The Caliphs of Islam can be from any tribe/nationality. It is just RECOMMENDED that they be from the Qurayshi lineage. This certainly does not make leadership an exclusive right of the Quraysh (who were Makkans). Bear in mind that there were numerous tribes under the Quraysh.

2- The election of a President in a Parliamentary system is done by the ELITES! It is the ministers of Parliament who are elected by the people as their representatives. Once the assembly/parliament (which in arabic is Majlis ash-shura) is formed, they then, after consultation amongst themselves, elect a head of state from a list of candidates. This is exactly what the companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did!

3- The Sahaba (companions of the Prophet SAW) didn't fight amongst themselves! The in-fighting that you talk about was witnessed during the last 4 years of the caliphate of the 3rd Caliph, Uthman al-Affan. He was martyred eventually by a band of rebels in Arabia who later came to be known as the Khawareej (who also conspired and killed the 4th Caliph, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib). Just because the Caliphs were martyred, it does not imply how "undemocratic" Arabia was then. After all, US presidents were assassinated, too! You would be interested to learn the etymology of the word "assassin" (it comes from Arabic). I quote from Merriam-Webster's dictionary:

Etymology: Medieval Latin assassinus, from Arabic hashshAshIn, plural of hashshAsh one who smokes or chews hashish, from hashIsh hashish
1 capitalized : one of a secret order of Muslims that at the time of the Crusades terrorized Christians and other enemies by secret murder committed under the influence of hashish.


Actually, these khawareej were exactly as described above and it was these same band of people who went around killing the Caliphs of Islam. The people of the Islamic Empire refered to them as "hashshasheen". The West discovered this term only later (during the Crusades).

You are right, however, when you say that Islam did not define the exact modus operandi of the election of the Caliphs. This is exactly where the dynamism of the Islamic Sharee'ah lies! It were the scholars of Islam and the companions of the Prophet (SAW) who put forward the process of electioneering. Although, let me make it clear, the process of electioneering in Islam is quite different to that practised by the West. Again, this is another can of worms that need not be opened now.

05 March, 2006 09:38  
Blogger Transparent Soul said...

Thanks al republican
I hate it when people feel free to talk about what they dont really know much about...like El zubeir

05 March, 2006 09:49  
Blogger al-republican said...

You are most welcome, transparent soul :)

05 March, 2006 09:55  
Blogger MD said...

u're right transparent soul, good one al!

05 March, 2006 10:53  
Blogger the UAE is wonderful said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

05 March, 2006 11:17  
Blogger trobriander said...

khawareej were not hashisheen. plz. don't jump histories to make points. khawareej were the people who did not adhere to Ali’s call for agreement to Musa’s and Amro Bin Al a’s appointment of Mua’wyia after the Sufeen wars. Many of the khawareej turned to Shiites (khawareej in Arabic are those who existed from the norms)

Hashisheens were the ancestors of today’s Al Ismalyians who operated out of a fortress in Sinai and adopted assassinations as means to achieve political goals. They originated too from Al Fatymiad dynasty in Egypt after their assailment by Saladin.

05 March, 2006 12:11  
Blogger al-republican said...

Trobriander-

Agreed, the hashshasheen term was actually coined for the rebels from the Fatimiyyah dynasty of the Isma'ili shi'ites. My point was that the concept of such tactics had started from the early days of Islam (i.e. assassinations of political figures/leaders).

Also, Khawareej is the plural for Khareej, which means losely, discarded or outcasts or someone excommunicated from the community. They were excommunicated for the reasons you state after the battle of Siffeen.

The murderers of Uthman and Ali were never under the influence of hashish (as the fatimids had made it a practice before carrying such attacks) just as the attackers of the Crusaders were not under the influence of hashish either. I drew a parallal just for inference. Sorry, if I misled anyone on that account.

05 March, 2006 12:38  
Blogger TwinTopaz said...

Democracy is NOT a system but a state of mind...

we tend to forget this!

05 March, 2006 13:39  
Blogger Dengrous Boy said...

BURN THE WEST!!! TERRIST INFIDILS!!!

05 March, 2006 13:46  
Blogger Balushi said...

When the West more precisely when Germany Declared that It will give Citizenship! High Pay! Western standared living!(lol) Humane treatment bla bla bla! All this Package to Any Indians with IT knowledge.


Germany was making a huge drive to bring Indians IT specialists to work in Germany!!!!! it was only a few years back.


GUESS WHAT????

It was a HUGE Flop!!!! Indians prefered to come to Dubai or Arabia and Hunt for jobs under the scorching sun heat!!!!!




HAHAHAHA this is a clear example for you guys to learn something from!!!


Dubai is this and dubai is that!!! we are like this and we are like that!!!! But dude nobody even wants your offerss!!!!!!


and also the classic example of Iraq oh we west wanna do this for you and we wanna do that for you!!!! OH for fu ck sakes!! do something for yourself first. We dont want you JUST get out.!!!



Can't you guys get it??? are u dumb or what?


geeeez!

05 March, 2006 14:00  
Blogger grinch said...

Trobiander - I was talking about democracy and elections - not the source of civilisation or whatever.

Anyway - I'm with Shadow on this one. Back to the topic in hand. Anyone with anything else to add?

Balushi - get a grip.

05 March, 2006 15:34  
Blogger starsky said...

hey SD i will not offend you in your own blog but i would like to invite your white ass to my blog and check it out. feel free to comment "i will not delete your comments"

05 March, 2006 17:48  
Blogger starsky said...

by the way this is the blog

http://wildwildblog.blogspot.com/

05 March, 2006 17:52  
Blogger trobriander said...

- grinch

The source of civilization or ‘whatever’ is what brought real ideas to life. Take for example the civic codes of the old Babylonians; most ancient civilizations adopted the mentioned as a core to their laws to include the old Egyptian dynasties, in order to achieve civic unities within their communities. The Greeks as well the old Palestinians opted for people’s voice to develop & implement those codes until the rise of Alexander and his juntas in the face of the foreign threats - the Persians. So democracy is not a code of ethics, it is one way of implementing the code of ethics, which are not in any way western or eastern for that matter!

05 March, 2006 18:05  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

05 March, 2006 18:44  
Blogger Mohamed Elzubeir said...

al-republican, you tell the story from the Sunni point of view. Conflict began as the first caliph took over. The Sunni version of history creates pseudo-prophets out of the caliphs.

I would strongly recommend History of the Arabs. It would make excellent reading for anyone wanting to know the full history of the Arabs.

05 March, 2006 22:37  
Blogger al-republican said...

El-Zubeir:

I give the history according to the historians. It is not only history recorded according to the majority of the historians, but also the authenticated ones. Truly, there is another point of view and it is very unauthentic (let alone it being reported by a few people who were not even historians).

Besides, in this discussion, nowhere did we discuss the finer aspects of the Sunni take versus that of the Shi'i! It is a fact that Abu Bakr was the first Caliph; it is a fact Ali ibn Abi Talib was the 4th Caliph; it is a fact that 3 out of the first 4 caliphs were murdered; it is a fact these killers belonged to the same party known was the "khawareej". These are things that both Sunni and Shi'ah acknowledge.

Shi'i may not accept Abu Bakr as the first Caliph of Islam, but nowhere in my postings did I ever bring up this debate of Abu Bakr vs Ali. I just jotted down things as they happened.

Cheers!

06 March, 2006 12:21  
Blogger el condo said...

SD's original post dealt with the ports controversy to connect to UAE Press freedoms (lack thereof). Instead we get a huge debate in the comments section on Islam being the true source of democracy and so on. It is possible al-republican has his or her own blog. In this case could I respectfully suggest using such a forum for propagation of Islam or whatever the agenda is...
this would save people from having to wade through large doses of proselytisation just to get to a point; is that simply because, as jbc put it, SD has a larger audience here?

06 March, 2006 12:55  
Blogger Mohamed Elzubeir said...

el condo, agreed. It's easy to get sucked into such discussions. Not sure about Chilton's view of people 'using the blog' as a platform. It is simply a place people often get into debates about.

06 March, 2006 13:04  
Blogger al-republican said...

el condo:

The debate started with censorship and freedom of press and all the digression that you see was because of one point leading to another. Had you been judiciously reading through the posts, you would have noticed that it was I who chose to stop talking about the issue. I kept on repeating that arguments SD and a few others were making would require another thread altogether.

If you think talking objectively about priorities of the Muslim World is proselytization then I hope you and your ilk realize how shoving democracy and other freedoms down our throats is compulsive proselytization as well!

06 March, 2006 14:26  
Blogger Mohamed Elzubeir said...

al-republican, I believe that democracy simply does not work for us at the moment. By the time it would work for us, hopefully a more efficient form of government has evolved.

A shameless plug for my brother's song (my lyrics) --

http://hish.openius.com/mymusic/folder.2006-01-28.0583111253/birdshit.mp3/view

It's about this issue, my view, his music. Enjoy it.

06 March, 2006 22:25  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

I have very much enjoyed the intelligent and high toned exchange here. Thanks nzm, Tim, papadose, al-republican and the rest. There's real intellectual ferment going on here.

I've made the analogy that Secret Dubai dairy is like Grand Central Station. I might have to revise that to say it is more like the New York Public Library.

starsky, you seem to be confusing the concepts of democracy and free speech with the concept of private property. Go get your own blog and say what you want. Oh, wait, you already did; well use it. Is the problem that you don't get the same audience unless you take advantage of SD's good nature to draw attention to yourself? It's a free country, but this is SD's house and you are her guest. You seem to be incapable of receiving criticism without taking insult.

starsky, which of you is using ad hominem? Seems like you have a character flaw in that respect. How many starskies do I meet before I can conclude that all starskies receive all criticism as ad hominem and are only capable of arguing ad hominem - which, by the way, is always a fallacious line of argumentation.

06 March, 2006 23:37  
Blogger Transparent Soul said...

"this is SD's house and you are her guest."
If you can kindly explain to SD that the UAE is our home and she is a guest and that she should accept our culture and religion.
She rarely has anything good to say about this country...only concentrating on flaws, insists to insult the locals (despite us telling her that..just incase she didnt realize)..
So good point John, like this is her blog "her house"..she is living in our country...our house..and she is a guest..who we welcome, but she continues to be disrespectful and ungrateful..
I can hear her say "i am only here for the money"

06 March, 2006 23:54  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Is the problem that you don't get the same audience

Another problem might be that his blog now only allows member comments, and he is the only member.

Despite him saying this:

Hell, if you won’t allow any one to comment on your ridiculous posts I’d rather diss you here in my own space…

I found it quite amusing, but it's really sad more than anything that the main terms of abuse are "fat pig", "double faced tart", "bitter woman", "depressed, sarcastic, sad, negative tart", "tight bitch", "cheap English tart".

Now call me paranoid, but I smell good old-fashioned misogynism there. It's not criticism one can really take seriously.

Now compare that to the approach taken by others who often disagree with my views, such as Al Republican. His arguments are generally reasonable and well-informed. Sometimes they frustrate me, sometimes they interest me. Sometimes he even wins me over on certain points.

Transparent and his sidekick should take a leaf out of AR's book.

07 March, 2006 00:12  
Blogger Transparent Soul said...

I think SD we were trying to speak your language cause when we talked "politely" you never got the point, you only got defensive and attacked.
You talk about using these foul words as if they are foreign to you..you started off by saying "sad fuck" etc etc..so dont act as if you are beyond that...
Anyways, if anybody is sad here, it is you, cause you have nothing positive to say, and you are always searching for the negative and I guess you trying to impress your self by making it seem you have a superior view of things..
We know the reality of our country, the flaws and all, and we continue to work on them, this is a new country and the accomplishments is beyond any other country in such a short period of time, so we are also able to see the good things as well. We dont choose to use your way of pointing out flows to people who care less to make this a better place, we do it with the people who matter...
Anyways SD, as much as I have fought with you here, I sympathize with you, cause you are trying to achieve what you couldnt in your own country...

07 March, 2006 02:45  
Blogger el condo said...

As much as I am loath to lengthen this comments thread any further, I would like to clarify what I meant by proselytisation.

Quoting al-republican:

"In sha Allah, the day is not far when this nation of 1.6 billion people will get their acts together and...start forcing our standards and values on a people who have lost all of theirs.

"(The Qur'an) is the Divine Word of God and...we invite every objective-minded person to come forward and study it for themselves.

"Remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. (Quran 3:103)"

"Like I said, the invitation is there to study this religion and find out more about the Prophet of Islam.... "

I hope you understand what I mean. Your reply to my comment included the following:

"If you think talking objectively about priorities of the Muslim World is proselytization then I hope you and your ilk realize how shoving democracy and other freedoms down our throats is compulsive proselytization as well!
06 March, 2006 14:26"

I am not sure whether you are from Afghanistan or Iraq; I suppose if you were from one of these countries, you could address your comments to the Bush Administration or perhaps to Americans in general. But as an Asian, I wonder what exactly you are referring to by the phrase "you and your ilk..."

I have never, at any time on the blogosphere, advocated or supported “enforced democratisation”.

In an earlier comment in this thread, I mentioned how some folks have difficulty separating regional issues from religious issues. Let me put it this way:

Region, not Re(li)gion.

07 March, 2006 10:27  

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