20 April, 2007

Dubai from a New School point of view :: openDemocracy

One extract:
If democratic representation does not characterise political life in Dubai, public opinion certainly does, in the form of newspapers, radio and a welter of professional and community associations. The lively debates through which public opinion in the city are registered are not of course regulated by national interest, though they do sometimes include national loyalties from elsewhere - thus the many letters in the local media by well-paid American expatriates complaining about anti-United States bias.
Another:
As the images of planes crashing into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center were relayed across the world on 11 September 2001, throngs of shoppers stopped to watch this spectacle on the television monitors of Dubai's many malls. Surrounded by American fast-food outlets, and clutching just-bought items of American fashion like the baseball caps that are worn with Arab robes, these spectators cheered as if they were American fans watching a sporting event. What did this celebration mean for the prosperous citizens of the United Arab Emirates, a country that is not only an American ally but in love with American commodities and culture? A country where Twin Towers and World Trade Centers continue to be built, looking now like the growing children of a fallen parent?

Whatever the reasons for their unseemly cheering as the events of 9/11 unfolded on television, the shoppers of Dubai were not manifesting anti-American sentiments because of their economic deprivation, nor out of hatred for the west. They were not even motivated by Arab or Islamic politics, since that now familiar entity, the "Arab street", does not in fact exist in Dubai.
There's plenty more to reflect on in the essay. It's all here at openDemocracy. The author is Faisal Devji is assistant professor of history at New School University, New York. His writing includes Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity.

10 comments:

B.D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.D. said...

^^The above deleted by me for editing.

While I haven't read yet but the excerpts posted, the following strikes me as a bit odd:

As the images of planes crashing into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center were relayed across the world on 11 September 2001, throngs of shoppers stopped to watch this spectacle on the television monitors of Dubai's many malls. Surrounded by American fast-food outlets, and clutching just-bought items of American fashion like the baseball caps that are worn with Arab robes, these spectators cheered as if they were American fans watching a sporting event.

Was anybody in fact cheering in Dubai's malls on 9/11? Did Dubai even have many malls in 2001? What TV monitors? I know the speaker is stating this to make a wider point about people's sentiment. Maybe there were some who instinctively reacted to 9/11 with feelings of "Yeah, America is getting what it derserves," but I doubt that this was translated into open expression in the UAE, certainly not by way of people cheering in shopping malls.

The Dubai of today, which seems in fact to be what the speaker is describing, is rather different from the Dubai of 2001 which he references. That, inaccuracy, kind of raises questions about the authority of the speaker's conclusions.

Was this something you were trying to hilight JBC?

B.D. said...

Have read the linked article now, which begins...

Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is unique...

Talk about leaving first impressions. This guy can't possibly know what his talking about. But wait, read on and what unfolds is a very intersting, insightful piece. It is a case of not quite seeing the forest for the trees. He analyzes and discusses Dubai in intricate detail--which to my ears is very much on the mark. Yet he messes up on some of the most easily confirmed facts.

nzm said...

B.D.: It wasn't the author who called Dubai the capital of the UAE - the introductory paragraph was written by some other uninformed person.

**********

Apart from Devji's sensationalist opening paragraph where he talks of cheering people in shopping malls during the 9/11 events (what was open then - City Centre? Lamcy? maybe), the rest of the article is well written, analysed and thought out.

When arriving from an overseas trip at DXB 2 weeks ago, I saw a perfect example of Devji's observation of Dubai being a transit hub for trade and people.

Our Emirates' flight parked at an outfield position and we were bussed to the terminals. Our bus held about 80 people. First stop was the terminal for transit passengers (with ongoing flights out of the UAE) and the second stop was the arrivals terminal for passengers entering the UAE. Only 5 of us were left on the bus for the second stop!

Another good find, John!

N. said...

Oh my God, the second article from Faisal Difji is a complete lie. Amazing article to start my morning with. Why do people write stupid things all the time? Was this person even in UAE? Nobody was cheering up anywhere in the Emirates and please do not put hate in other people's heart, we had enough. Someone probably forged his transcripts this idiot.

Just think about, the person is not even an Emariati, he is an Arab and from all countries, he picked the UAE to criticize. Where does he from anyway? Did he even criticize his country where he might be deported?


I was in my high school back then and in fact, nobody even talked about it.

I was personally scared as nobody knew what is going on, yeah right, there was this Palestinians group who quickly and moronic-way adopted the attacks and later they said they did not even do it. I was like, what the hell? But nobody in UAE even acknowledged the attacks until the Iraq war began.

Again, apparently this professor in New York School wants to be famous or something. It is normal nowadays to be complete against the stream. However, to be completely an oxymoron that something we really cannot tolerate.

N. said...

lol "whose clear waters get saltier by the day as desalination plants providing the city with its water continue to dump the salt they extract back into the Gulf -" gosh!! , no seriously, at the beginning I thought someone forged his transcripts.. I am more than sure now!!

rosh said...

Christ - what BS! This is the first I've heard of such fabricated attention seeking - desperate book sale attempt.

There was no cheering in DXB malls when 9/11 happened - I have friends who work at DCC, what's this guy trying to prove or provocate?

Oh wait he is with NYU - the school whose first greeting message at orientation(or rather question) to my youngest brother - "have you registered with the FBI" - not a hello or how are you or welcome to NYU!

NZM - was your bus filled with the entire passengers from the aircraft? I think not - the "5" you refer is inaccurate.

secretdubai said...

I was in the UAE, and I was in Media City when we heard that the towers had been hit.

We rushed down to the main lobby of building 2, where the DMC admin offices are, because they have TVs. Loads of people came down from so many different offices, so many different nationalities and religions. You guys know what DMC is like. People just standing around but I can't remember their faces or how many or even how long we all stood and watched for. I think we saw the second tower fall, but it's all such a blur I can't even remember that.

And people watched in complete silence and bewilderment. They were horrified, they were numb. My Jordanian colleague's brother was in the towers and his family could not contact him for hours as all communications went down. By a miracle he was one of the survivors, but for all that time his family feared he was dead.

So cheering? I don't think so.

B.D. said...

Your account, SD, sounds exactly like what I would have imagined. I was alone in my home in AD at the time. I just stared at the TV in disbelief. I was afraid to go to work the next day, called my colleagues who felt the same and we requested off from our jobs at a UAE military establishment. The officers we requested leave from were in complete sympathy and on getting back to work a couple of days later, all I got were words of sympathy from the locals and all the expatriates around. It is utterly impossible to think there would have been cheering anwhere in the UAE.

azucenamaryam said...

I graduate from the New School University formerly the New School of Social Research and let me tell you that it is a bunch of academtics who should be studing the life patterns of dust mites, because this is the population that they are around the most.

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