07 April, 2007

I'm all for more freedoms, but...

Apparently the Gulf News publishers have entered the tabloid field,
Smart. Bold. Quick.
Developed by the Al Nisr Group, publisher of the successful and respected Gulf News, XPRESS is Dubai’s newest and truest tabloid newspaper. A "people paper" with strong emphasis on human interest stories, it addresses the issues of modern life in Dubai as well as keeping readers up-to-date with the most interesting world news. Divided into three sections – News, Life and Sport – XPRESS has a distinct focus on the local. That means more local news, more local life and more local sport. This also means including anything of interest to the local reader from around the world.
And their feature NEWS headliner today...Dubai's Dancing Divas, including photos like the one below, which I doubt UAE community moderators will consider fit to keep posted on this website:


Moderators, you have my consent to edit this if you see fit.

Now, I'm all for more freedoms within society where individuals have, within reason, the right to behave in any manner that they see as correct, as long as it poses no harm to others. The UAE is making continued progress in this regard. But I believe it hurts the course of this progress when this freedom is in a sense flaunted soley for the sake of commercial profit. It poses the risk of turning the clock back on such progress if the sensibilities of a large number of people (conservative Muslims, traditionalists and others with consevative values) are affronted. Let us all enjoy our freedoms, but let's do so being respectful of others, especially when it does not require that we relinquish our own right to live comfortably.

I'm all for addressing the issues of modern life in Dubai as the tabloid in its about us post explains. But I don't think this kind of headliner is doing that. While I'm not against a tabloid trying to make money, which is obviously what motivates this sort of thing, there are other less controverisal ways to do so.

9 comments:

archer14 said...

I don't know what they're smoking at GN, but they're now trying to do what Khaleej Times is best at - trivialise news. I think it will sell well...for me web content and news far exceed what GN offers everyday with the exception of the Friday times.

I hope they don't push up the price of their daily for including this ridiculous tripe - and I hope I can opt out.

Keefieboy said...

Now, I'm all for more freedoms within society where individuals have, within reason, the right to behave in any manner that they see as correct, as long as it poses no harm to others

...and breaks no laws?

As a long-time resident of Dubai, I have to admit I am a little bit shocked when I see pictures like this in local media. My critics will no doubt disagree, but I do think that expats who have been here a while become hyper-sensitized to things like this - almost more conservative than the underlying society. Of course an image like this would not get a second glance in the West, and you can see far more flesh on display on any beach in Dubai. So it's kind of difficult to figure out where the boundaries lie. The Chief of Police would no doubt consider this image vulgar in the extreme, but what about the average Abdullah?

In this instance I'm pretty sure that the publishers are confident of what they can and cannot do. One thing is for sure - they will not bow to the demands of the most-conservative critic. As in all societies, social norms are constantly being redefined, just as hemlines on skirts or lapel-width on jackets go up and down or in and out.

I really think it would be a very bad thing if the ultra-conservatives in any society get their way on matters of taste and behaviour - that way Fascism and Nazism lie. Functional societies rely on a consensus to shape the boundaries of what is and what is not acceptable.

Oh dear, I'm in trouble again...

B.D. said...

I really think it would be a very bad thing if the ultra-conservatives in any society get their way on matters of taste and behaviour...

And this is exactly the sort of thing I fear. As you say we can already see these things, obviously in such clubs and, of course, the there's the flesh on the beach. But that's the point. It is sort of confined to a given place and not splashed on the pages of the media. You're absolutley right that no one would blink in the West, but certainly quite a few will blink here. Why not let it just go on quietly in the clubs, without publicizing it. How many Tom, Dick and Abdulla's on seeing such an article will think, "I've got to check this out."

bklyn_in_dubai said...

"The Chief of Police would no doubt consider this image vulgar in the extreme..." if Lt Gen Khaldan Tameem can't be bothered to shut down the indian "nautch" clubs at imperial suites and other bur dubai joints -- which have a decent abdullah following, though little of tom and dick -- then why bother with pix of said places? even if tom and dick were inspired to go once, unlikely they'd go back. abdullah and ravi and pervez -- this is more their style, but they didn't need express to tell them about it. you fret too much about the power of the press, my friend. in any case, anything goes in dubai, and this by comparison is pretty tame.

what i did like in the article though was that they seem to go to pains to say these girls are not for hire, but then in one of the last bits: "He pays his bill and looks over as he stands up. Sanjana smiles back and excuses herself. It’s time to go."

Anonymous said...

If you can see these images at Deira, Riqqa Street or if you can see these images at the Dubai hotels by your own eyes, then why not seeing them on the paper or online? If you don't want to have them in local media, maybe you should not have them in Dubai.

kochumanavalan said...

The boundaries, whether in media or anywhere else, are constantly being tested. There is no specific "norm" for an Arab/Muslim society...each one is unique and different. The UAE is different from Saudi Arabia, which is different from Egypt, which is different from Lebanon or Jordan. What is acceptable in one society may not be in another. Yet they are all Arab and largely Muslim.

I agree with Keefie: "...expats who have been here a while become hyper-sensitized to things like this - almost more conservative than the underlying society." They somehow have become they moral guardians of a society that, to their horror, is in constant evolution.

i, Bobo said...

How many Tom, Dick and Abdulla's on seeing such an article will think, "I've got to check this out."

I've got to check this out.

Anybody have directions?

bklyn_in_dubai said...

i bobo -- all over bur dubai. imperial suites on that street behind khaleej centre, any hotel on computer street away from the york such as seashell inn, regal next to spinney's.

Elan said...

The use of photos like this is obvious: the Brits are running Dubai's English language media and importing the British way of doing things, albeit in a more staid manner. To them, this IS more conservative and culturally appropriate!

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