Friday, February 24, 2006

In Dubai

I'm in Dubai right now, so blogging in general will be light.

However, since Dubai is currently big news in the US because of the decision to award the Dubai Ports World control of various American ports, I thought I would write something about how the issue is being portrayed here.

Firstly, DPW is front page news every day. This is rare because usually local news is not published in the paper very much at all. This is partly because the UAE is a small country, and the english dailies are read by expatriates. It is partly because local press coverage is extremely controlled, so you can't print anything interesting and local on the front page.

Secondly, every story written about this condemns America for essentially "racial profiling" and wanting to ban the ports because of a general distrust towards Muslims. The argument is that if a German was involved in a terrorist act in the US, then the US would not ban BMWs.

Thirdly, there is no acknowledgement that 9/11 happened, that it was a combination of a terror ideology with state support in the Arab world (particularly Saudi, Iran, and Palestine), that it represents an extremist wing of Islam which is ascendent, that it is connected with dictatorships (of which the UAE is one, albeit a compentent and broadly beneficent example), and that we're talking about *ports*, not cars or soda or biscuits, and the security concerns are real. Some supermarkets here are banning Danish goods, so clearly boycotts, bans, and racial profiling is not something Arabs oppose per se, it's just that in this case they are on the wrong end of things.

If there is an element of paranoia in the US reaction to 9/11, there is an element of denial in the Arab world's.

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