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Thursday, December 10, 2009

To the Defence of Dubai

A few months ago an article entitled The Dark Side of Dubai upset a lot of people in the Emirate.

It told the story of people sleeping in cars because of debt, of workers trapped without their passport being paid a quarter of their promised wages, of European expats having the time of their life while ignoring the poverty stricken workers around them.

A lot of it rang true, and there are similarities with Qatar. Even Al Jazeera ran a documentary on workers who don't get paid in Qatar, and the Gulf Times occassionally runs stories on people stuck here because of debt.

(One heart breaking story was that of an American who had borrowed money to pay for his mother's medical treatment. His mother died, he lost his job and was then stuck here with mounting debt, no way to get out of Qatar until he had paid for it and no way to pay it.)

Now in the Gulf News Linda Heard has risen to the defence of Dubai, attacking Johan Hari:

What's his problem? Did the five-star hotel in which he stayed in Dubai forget to deliver his laundry on time? Does he have an agenda? Or has he been dodging too many bullets for too long?
How dare he complain about Dubai after staying in a nice hotel there!

Johan Hari shouldn't, it seems, have asked a poor girl about slavery when she was having such as wonderful time in Dubai.

Chain gangs don't exist - she calls them his "chain gang hallucinations" - and in any case, even if they do it doesn't matter because it is worse in the US and the UK.

Of course, terrible things do happen in the UK and the US. However, I don't see the logic which says it is okay for bad things to happen in the Middle East if they also happen in the West. Surely we should criticise bad things wherever they happen? (Except in Dubai, of course, where everything is perfect.)

The article rang false. But this piece that I read about the writer did not:

She's rarely wrong in what she says but she's consistently only half-right -- the half that her readers want to hear.

She carefully leaves out all issues and facts which are uncomfortable to Arab readers.
(Source: Liberal Propoganda.)

Essentially, her article in the Gulf News is propoganda - she's a Western writer paid to make Arab readers feel better.

Which explains her outrage that Johan Hari should dare to care about the workers in the country after being treated to a stay in a luxury hotel!

But I wonder how comfortable she feels with herself...

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