Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sultan on Arab Emigrants in the UAE

This is a very well-intentioned great story.  It is a long-forgotten tribute to the Arabs who have worked in the UAE and were an integral part of the development there.  Sultan is paying a tribute to where tributes are never paid, and he proves in this effort that there should not be distinctions between Arabs.  However: 1) he makes no class distinctions.  If anything, the article suffers from class and social elitism: some people are described as "prominent" or "famous" when such distinctions always obscure the great contributions of poor workers.  There should have been coverage of non-elite Arabs: the average Arabs whose names are not famous.   2) The article implies that by working in the UAE, those Arabs are great by virtue of their settlement there.  Missing from the article is the obvious fact: some of those Arab emigrants are opportunists, mercenaries, sell-outs, crooks, and pimps who made fortunes and profited by providing pleasure services to Gulf rulers.  He mentions, for example, Bassam Frayhah as a "journalist".  This guy can't even write a letter, even if his life depended on it (and worse, Sultan cites the opinion of Samir `Atallah on the matter, and `Atallah is one of the most corrupt Arab columnists ever, who has devoted his pen for many decades to sing the praises of Arab oil princes and shaykh and whose work in journalism is part of his services in the entourage of various Saudi princes).  Bassam Frayhah basically benefited from the simple fact: that his father, Sa`id, sold his services and publications to Shaykh Zayid, and the publications of Dar As-Sayyad are now all subsidized by the UAE although they are not read.  This is not journalism, and this is a guy you don't want to brag about, Sultan.  Bassam Frahyah because a cash messenger from UAE government to Lebanese presidents and politicians (former president, Emile Lahhud, told the story that Bassam Frahyah brought him a briefcase of $5 million as a typical cash reward from UAE to every newly elected Lebanese president, and that he turned it down, but Frayhah kept the money for himself).  Also, some of those people were hosted by the UAE because they were previously loyal to Nasser or to the left, and were later bought by the UAE or some other Gulf regimes.  This is also nothing to brag about.  Let us take the case of Walid Kaddurah: a Central Committee member of the PFLP, and a rising star in the group in the early seventies.  He was later arrested and confessed that he was working for the Lebanese intelligence service (and Hilda Habash--the widow of Goerge--still believes he worked for Israeli intelligence), and was imprisoned in Beirut by the FPLP (but later through family connections, he fled).  Kaddurah moved to UAE and found employment in UAE media.  3) The call for naturalization is important and should not be limited or qualified.  4) Some of those Arab emigrants were not enlightened or progressive but were Islamists  who spread fanatical and extremist interpretations of Islam, and these were Ikhwan who staffed ministries of education throughout the gulf.  4) Sultan should have written about the hierarchy of wealth, power, prestige, and national origin among the emigrants: and how Europeans and Americans are treated better than Arabs and paid better than Arabs.