Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sheikh Mo can Use a Cellphone: and Dubai has "no politics"--whatever that means. Afshin Molavi: I read a lot of propagandistic fluff pieces on Dubai in the Arabic and Western press, but this by far is the worst I have read. Full of cliches and devoid of substance. It could have easily been written by many of the PR firms that are hired by Sheikh Mo to improve his image. And was it not reliable that everybody you interviewed (two the three businessmen interviewed were my classmates in Beirut) to talk about your idol is a businessman--you don't seem interested in talking to women--with interests in Dubai? That would really complete the full picture of the Shaykh. And then you say: "From his offices on the 44th floor of a sleek steel-and-glass skyscraper, he juggles nonstop cell-phone calls and dashes off salvos of quick-fingered text messages. "Sorry," he says with a wan smile to a visiting reporter. "It's a very busy time."" What? You were impressed that your Shaykh can use a cellphone? Get him a blender next time as a reward. And I know that you like cliches but what is this about Dubai being "not political"? "In a region where everything is political, Dubai's greatest distinction—and the secret of its prosperity—is that it is almost utterly apolitical." What does that mean? So when Rice summoned the chiefs of the security services--you don't seem to know that there is a very robust intelligence service in UAE to the point that people on the phone don't refer to Sheikh Mo by his name but they give him a fictitious Western name--to meet with here, and one of them was from UAE, was non-politics discussed? And the close security-military role of UAE (and Dubai in particular) in the region in support of US, is that also non-politics? Also, you really did not even need to mention in passing the mistreatment of Asian workers: that was as token as it gets. And unlike any expert in the world, Afshin declares this: "The negative publicity has helped improve the treatment of laborers somewhat." No evidence is given but probably Afshin did research on that in the few days he spent there. Maybe he asked Sheikh Mo, and Mo told him that it has improved. If this article was a job application for a PR role for Sheikh Mo, you got the job Afshin.