13 November, 2007

Bloggers take note!

I think the experience of our fellow blogger bklyn_in_dubai is something we all have to be wary of:-

"Syed Ali was in Dubai interviewing expatriate workers for a book. The day before he was due to leave, six strangers arrived at his flat and took him to the police compound. A 13-hour interrogation lay ahead "

Its not that every blogger is likely to be interrogated and deported by the authorities. Just that the safety shield of anonymity that the internet provides you might not necessarily be as bulletproof you thought it might be.


55 comments:

Khaled-ad said...

I don't see anything wrong with interrogating the guy. After Sep 11th both USA and UK were arresting arabs randomly. They would just disappear without even having the right to talk to lawyers. Later on, they were sent to guantanamo prison.Exactly in Sep 11th day, it happened that one of my relatives was coming back home from USA after he graduated and was withdrawing all his money. He got arrested. Luckily enough, He had direct connections with AD Sheiks. One of the sheiks personally interfered to get him out of there.

So I think what happened in Dubai to the guy is nothing compared with the barbaric practices by the US and UK government.

After all, every one knows how well British people are being treated in Dubai. Even locals complain about being discriminated in Dubai's airport whereas Brits receive the best treatment as if they are the most superior race on earth!

Seabee said...

The anonymity isn't to shield us from officialdom - I'm sure we're all aware that we can be traced through our computers.

Staying within the law with what we say is a good idea...

localexpat said...

khaled-ad,

Firstly:
TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT!!!

Secondly:
What on earth does the 11th september issue have to do with a sociologist being arrested and deported for carrying out his research? You really don't make any sense

Editor said...

The story sounds possible, yet I think the part about the interrogation is strongly influenced by the American movies, but not really inspired by the local police procedures. 13 hours of questioning by police officers exits the typical working shifts here.
I don't take seriously 70-80% of the western articles about Dubai any longer.

rosh said...

I am not sure what to make of this incident. The series of events occurred 2 years ago. I am oblivious to why & what transpired - hence shall judge neither way.

However, all said, I'd say - there is a fundamental difference with the tone & sentiments whilst reading Syed Ali's (Brooklyn in Dubai's) blog on this event, and and that of another research scholar, native informant. The former, lacks objectivity.

bklyn_in_dubai said...

editor --

it wasn't police, they keep logs. it wasn't CID either. they also keep logs. it was state security. no ID nor explanations necessary. no logs kept. whole different ballgame.

as for khaled-ad, interrogation on its own, while not a pleasant thought, is not the big issue for me. being summarily banned and deported without any right of appeal or even a proper charge or trial was. and yeah, getting bagged by the US authorities would likely have been much worse (i fear going into jfk more than anything else). *but* you should take localexpat's point seriously, two wrongs never, never make a right. they might even things out, but that's not making things right.

and as for seabee, you know dubai well enough to know that "law" in dubai is what the authorities say it is. someone decided they didn't like what i was doing and decided i had to be deported, and that was that. in a place where laws are properly applied, you get tried, and you can appeal. that's not always the case in dubai, especially for what are considered political cases. remember, as enlightened as the Sheikh may be, dubai is still an autocratic entity.

SevenSummits said...

Wow, bklyn,
You have my sincere admiration as a fellow scientist and blogger to come forward with this information and hence indirectly warn others about what could be in store for them. I know that your story is correct and I am surprised that “they” (UAE Intelligence) even showed you a warrant. You were still a little lucky and it could have been much, much worse!!!
I will later tonight put a report online – which I still need to edit a little, to make sure that privacy is adequately respected – that will hopefully give people an insight of what could happen. In addition, I will contact you by email, because it will always be helpful for you to get to know others that suffered through similar experiences.

Thanks also LocalExpat for posting this!

Khaled, (ok, severe snow in Germany), but let us try to be serious about this one. Please! We could argue about being (or feeling to be) in a war situation, etc., but I do not believe that this is the point here.
You appear to be a little different from some of these brainless dimwits on this blog and therefore it is important that we hear your opinion about these concerns. If you cannot comment – for obvious reasons – we will respect that as well, but just let us know. To escape from the topic by pointing a finger elsewhere, does not sound like you at all and I am sure that in a different post we can all agree that some of those incidents that happened after 9/11 were seriously out of order. However now we are talking about your country that is currently not involved in a war with anyone (unless a few minor disputes over three little islands and a few sand dunes), so there is some need for explanations.

Kyle said...

Brooklyn – Contrary to whatever anybody may say to debunk your story, or for that matter even counter it with their own quixotic versions, don’t fall prey to their gimmicks or feel intimidated to the point of cracking up. You’ve done the right thing to highlight your predicament and what you endured during those thirteen odd hours. It only goes to show how insecure and jittery some elements are when someone is only doing his or her job.

On a lighter vein, JFK’s a cakewalk. Don’t even think of Dulles being one, some of my friends get the jitters when the aircraft they’re traveling in makes its final approach to Dulles. They blame their phobia on George and his Homeland goons!

atlasiali said...

Between US and Dubai, I still prefer Dubai

University of Florida student Tasered at Kerry forum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bVa6jn4rpE

Khaled-ad said...

To Editor
Don’t be so skeptical about the western articles about Dubai. I am pretty sure that bklyn forgot to mention the other bad cops who took over the second shift :P
To bklyn
I am not happy to read about what happened to you. You are right when it comes to the procedures followed in applying the law in here. I can’t comment on this any further because I am sure that sevensummits will excuse me for that. ;)
To sevensummits
We don’t have to be in a state of war so that we can break the rules. Every country, once in a while, breaks its own laws if it is deemed to promote security: A good example of breaking the laws would be the link provided by Atlasiali. You and I cannot decide who is qualified and who is not to visit this country. Let the people in charge judge because they have more access to information that we don’t. Plus, when a foreign agent is in a mission, he won’t carry a badge saying agent x is visiting your country. I am not accusing any one in here but I am presenting all the possibilities and the available justifications. In fact, I strongly believe that everyone is innocent till otherwise proved.
By the way, you brought up a point when u said “If you cannot comment – for obvious reasons – we will respect that as well, but just let us know” that I’ve always wanted to touch upon which is self-censorship or the other way around freedom of speech. You may not buy what I say, but I am with a limited freedom of speech. First of all, because there is no such a thing as a freedom of speech PERIOD and I don’t need to refer you anew to the same video I mentioned a moment ago. Secondly, we locals (I am not generalizing it to the whole Emirati population but at least all I know) like it this way because it is in our best interest. Freedom of speech would raise other troublesome issues like democracy which we don’t appreciate.
Besides, come on dude… If I don’t defend my country in the good and bad times then who else would? And if there is someone who needs to be interrogated, it should be you because u sound suspicious to me!!! ( Joke okay?)
To Atlasiali
Thanks for the link!!!! I’ve been searching for it. You saved a lot of my time and effort.

American in Dubai said...

@atlasiali:

The whole taser incident at University of Florida is not an example of a violation of freedom of speech. "Freedom of speech" does not mean the student in the video has the right to interrupt a public forum with established rules of decorum or shout obscene words (both of which he did). It doesn't mean someone has the right to block traffic while holding a protest, for instance, or read pornography in front of elementary schoolchildren, or shout "fire!" in a crowded theater. Furthermore there is plenty of evidence that the student in that video was trying to create an incident rather than seriously debate the issues:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Florida_Taser_incident

In any case, whatever one thinks of this video, it certainly doesn't prove there's no free speech in America.

American in Dubai said...

oops, looks like the link didn't come through in the previous comment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_
Florida_Taser_incident

hope that works - sorry for the clutter!

nativeinformant said...

"However, all said, I'd say - there is a fundamental difference with the tone & sentiments whilst reading Syed Ali's (Brooklyn in Dubai's) blog on this event, and and that of another research scholar, native informant. The former, lacks objectivity."

Rosh,

Thanks for the compliment, first off. Glad to hear you like my blog, but in Syed's defense, this incident took place just a little over a year ago, and I am appalled at what he went through. Also, I don't think I have blogged directly about it myself at all. Anyway, there is no excuse for detaining a researcher who has actually been "invited" in terms of a scholar-exchange agreement between the US and the UAE. My only concern as a researcher myself, and one who also is Indian-American (i.e. brown) and works on expatriate populations, is that people realize that Syed's experience is the exception and not the norm. I had no negative experiences myself while conducting my research in Dubai in 2006. That said, however, I was scared, both before and after this arrest, and did practice self-censorship regularly. That is part of the negotiation of the terrain of research in the Gulf, and the lack of academic freedom is difficult to maneuver around (case in point being professors fired for discussing Danish cartoons in the classroom). But I hope this does not discourage others from doing work on the Gulf - a generally understudied region of the world, particularly within social science.

And, before everyone else jumps in to say the inevitable but irrelevant, let me do so: there is not exactly academic freedom in the US and the US gov't has been known to detain academics...

atlasiali said...

As a person with such experience!
for me, It's been gone very peacefully in Dubai.

comparing to other countries
USA (Taser / Public torture)
Iraq (Guantanamo)
Afghanistan (Beheading)
Other GCC (Beating)
China (mass murder)
Russia (radioactive assassination)
Iran (Long jail terms without any reason)
Burma (currently on the news)
Pakistan (Suicide bombs)
Lebanon (Street bombs)
.....

I think (my opinion and you don't have to agree) Dubai, maybe not in the world, but at least in the region, is the only heaven for Journalists.

To judge something, it's better to have a bigger picture of our world, today. ( Life > HDD )

*(September 25, 2007) Shaikh Mohammad issued instructions that journalists in the country will not be jailed for doing their work.
* I'm no body, not a local, not an arab

BuJ said...

To be honest I'm very disappointed above all at the Guardian and also at localexpat for publishing this.

Everyone these days seem to have the right (and motive) to smear the UAE.

Constructive criticism is not nice, but it's honest and as the name suggests - constructive. Smearing, whistle-blowing, and underhand tactics never improve anything and only fosters hate and xenophobia.

I just wonder what kind of research did people like the Guardian and their subordinates do to validate these allegations against the UAE.

SevenSummits said...

Here is an extract of a report, which I edited to protect the privacy of the person involved. However this was published by an Arab organization (not Western media – you can obviously tell from the English and it is honestly a difficult text – I assume it made much more sense in Arabic) online – therefore available to the general public and should give everyone a rough idea of what could happen to anyone. Now just for the fact that I do not want to be accused of only caring for Westerners, I have chosen to demonstrate the fate of a UAE national. (So in this case you will need to see the applied torture within the context of UAE culture!) Obviously many will recognize this case, but let me appeal to your good manners for a change …

In fact this is only the super mild version of what really happened and many further humiliations were left out – obviously out of shame. I would have liked to display what happened to the involved lady and how they humiliated and abused her to force a confession out of her, that she was raped by him (which of course is total nonsense!), but she asked me not to and I respect that. In fact, she never gave in to all the threats, never signed anything that could hurt him and has kept absolutely quiet until today to protect him. (Not sure, if I agree with that at all – probably missed out on the romantic gene!)

Also like BKLYN this candidate was picked up totally unexpected and obviously after serious surveillance by the State Security, but without a warrant or any explanation. The interrogation started with questions about his involvement in Islamic work and his connections with international legal and media organizations. The questioning was accompanied by insults and degradation. When he started to hold back and remind them of his rights pointing out that he knows no reason for such a surprising and illegal arrest, security men started making fun of him and of the human rights he was talking about. They threatened him that if he does not cooperate and provide information and stop his activities they will frame him by accusing him of an immoral act. They played a tape of a phone call where he was talking to a woman and told him that they were able of dubbing the tape in such a way to use it as evidence to damage his reputation and "expose him before the public". At the same time the interrogators continued with their humiliating treatment of him. Extremely tired, he was forced to give some information about his activities in the fields of human rights and reform and his affiliations inside the country and outside it without giving too many details. [Enough details so that I had the pleasure to met up with these nutcases as well – thanks for that!]
Late at night, the security men brought him some food. After eating he suddenly became tired and fell asleep. When he woke up in the morning he felt that his clothes were wet. As he was checking his clothes, the security men took all his clothes off and gave him other clothes to wear. They told him that they will keep the clothes for evidence against him in the crime they are going to invent against him. He had feelings of depression and fear of damaged reputation. After heaps of insults, he was told to get ready as his family was coming to take him home. He was glad to hear that and got ready for going home. He was taken to another room where a security officer was sitting behind a desk with a document in front of him. The accused was asked to sign the document, when he asked about the content of the document, he was told that it was a statement admitting to having committed adultery with a lady. He first rejected this, but he was threatened that he will be taken back to the cell again where he will be subjected to extreme psychological torture and will not see his family. At the time our candidate had lost his balance and ability to argue, he signed the document telling the interrogator that he does not admit to anything in the statement and that he signed it under duress. His priority was to get away from pressure and torture, he was asked not to tell anyone of what has happened to him. Two interrogators took turns in interrogating, one of them dealt the rough treatment and threats and the other dealt the more human treatment and urged the accused to cooperate and he would be released in a few hours. After signing the document, he was released and arrived home tired and in a very sorry state. …..

Apparently the security authorities were upset with his writings, interviews and participation in human rights activities worldwide and asked him to stop all these activities. Immediately after his release, he traveled abroad and on his return security men started harassing him once again, because they wanted more information about the movement that he was allegedly affiliated with. He was summoned again to the interrogation centre under the threat of being arrested and barely managed to inform his family and brothers about his whereabouts. Again he had to wait for several hours when they brought him food and drink but he refused to eat or drink to avoid a repeat of what has happened to him the first time. After that he was blindfolded and a tough interrogator, who was specialized in psychological torture, came into the room and started heaping insults describing him as an animal, someone without heart or humanity and ill-mannered and tried to get information out of him about the his various activities and names of people he meets in the country and abroad. He was threatened that if he does not admit they will bring members of his family and make them watch a video of him in a sexual act. The interrogation and psychological torture lasted until 7:10 pm, when he was allowed to pray. After the prayers, another interrogator interviewed him without the blindfolds this time. The interrogator started calming him down and apologizing for the rough treatment. The accused was left to spend the night in a cell. The next morning, the same rough interrogator came to see him and repeated the same insults and degrading treatment for about three hours. He was then left till Friday afternoon when he was asked to phone his family and ask them to come and bring along his passport to take him home. He left his prison cell home extremely tired and in a state of shock as a result of the psychological torture he was subjected to.


…. until today he is harassed and his children are the real victims of all this!

The text may be difficult to understand, but I believe that the message was pretty clear – they will go to any length to stop UAE nationals from thinking critically or foreigners for daring to conduct any serious and independent research in the UAE. (same goes for journalist, etc.)

Ok, I could say a lot more to this, but guess that the above post will already do!
The paradox is that by threatening anyone that is serious, they will achieve exactly the opposite and they will never silence anyone with these strategies. Yet it seems – and I already said this before - that independent organizations or scientists that produce social research are still regarded as antagonists to the government in the UAE rather than useful collaborators and in this respect often limit their ability to produce critical information. As a consequence, government decision-making tends to operate in isolation from socio-political research results, leading to all those inefficient policies. In this respect, a lot of work remains to be done in order to enhance the knowledge base that should produce policy-relevant findings and facilitate informed decision-making. But nobody is going to do it, because who will risk an unpleasant encounter with the UAE intelligence??? Such information spreads extremely fast and most European experts (the real ones, not the puppet edition) for the region are already aware of those numerous risks they will face in the UAE and no thanks!

Wow, many comments in the meantime - I will get to those tomorrow!

@ Khaled - you are excused, my friend (not from the snow thing) and nobody Western will understand the reasons more than me !!! - we do not want to see you in trouble - not worth it!

SevenSummits said...

Buj - today only a response to you!
these allegations against the UAE

BuJ, these are not allegations, but true facts and I do not believe that anyone is trying to hurt you or any other regular Emirati by saying this. Even those guys from the “State Security” are eventually only doing a job – in other words following orders from above!

I could show you about 12 different reports from roughly 5 different European nationalities, all describing exactly the same procedures as BKLYN did, even the same “words/sentences” being used. All these people do not know each other, are of different gender / social status and have zero connections to each other – how can they dream up the same story? When they stormed into my hotel room – about 8 of them – they never showed me a warrant and while they were searching my room for over two hours, I did not get a single response from these guys what on earth this was all about? (I actually thought they were searching for drugs or so – now I am glad they did not put any there) Trust me, I asked several times! They pushed me against the wall and threatened to beat me, when I told them, that I would like to phone my embassy. “Not allowed” – same standard response. I have never had any ambitions about doing research in respect the UAE, have never published anything negative about the UAE, have Sheikh Zayed (may he rest in peace) and his tribute on one of my websites (to the annoyance of Kuwait, who I officially give government advice to) or have done anything else to harm your country, but only used it as a convenient hub to meet my friends and colleagues from the other GCC countries. …and all my Emirati friends of course! (I already mentioned previously that my research depends on dialogue and since there are no available stakeholders in the UAE, your country already got excluded from my habilitation research.)

Out of respect for you and others, I will not describe the next 13 hours of interrogation (13 seems to be their magic number) on this blog – actually, I do not want to remember a second of that day myself! Trying to extract information from me, that I did not even have and still have absolutely no clue what this entire thing was all about. (I wasn’t accused of anything!) Endless threats and no water! (My head almost exploded from dehydration) afterwards they gave me back my passport and that was it! The next time I came to the UAE, I had a terrible feeling of discomfort and was anxious that something like this could happen again – now I just try to avoid the country as much as I can and chase everyone to Kuwait or Bahrain. I did not expect that - it really caught me by surprise – I just came from Somalia and thought that I will have a few lovely days of chilling in Dubai.

Abdullah said...

There are two psychological weapons or rather states of mind that people in authority try to break you down with. The first is security (meaning your emotional state is threated with the lack of security and uncertainty of what will happen to you/loved ones in the near future), the second is fear (of what is going to happen or is happening in the immediate present). If a person is able to read through these two psychological weapons and respond in a cohesive manner, these kind of "interviews" with the national security and / or other law enforcement agencies becomes so very slightly easier. Faith in God and Destiny (if you are a Muslim) helps. And so does reading about the trials of the pious predecessors of Islam - as harsher experiences of others often humble oneself and make one grateful to God in trying times.

samuraisam said...

khaled-ad: September 11th? You're comparing the countersecurity measures of a terrorist attack that killed 3000 people to some guy interviewing a few people?

"So I think what happened in Dubai to the guy is nothing compared with the barbaric practices by the US and UK government."
Yeah sure. That's why they have an Al-wathba prison in both of those countries, and that's why a few too many locals enjoy going on weekend shopping trips to both destinations (though mostly the latter); they both really are barbaric countries.

"Let the people in charge judge because they have more access to information that we don’t"
You make excellent cattle; yes, 'moo' is all you can say, happily embrace the fact that you live in a police state.

atlasiali: So obviously by bringing up said incident you are insinuating that some guy sitting in his hotel room doing research is the same as some idiot trying to interrupt a senators speech; I'm sure that if anyone tried to do the equivelant here and interrupt a sheikhs speech there would be a whole lot more buttsecks to go around than a tazer.

You heard about the tazer incident didn't you? It pretty much became front page news in the US within hours of its occurance; notice how it's taken pretty much an entire year for a publication to cover this story, and it's not even a publication in the UAE because everyone is too shit scared to mention the secret police and their retarded counterparts the CID.

"I think (my opinion and you don't have to agree) Dubai, maybe not in the world, but at least in the region, is the only heaven for Journalists."
Are you on crack? There are several other middle eastern countries with far more press freedom and with governments that don't treat their citizens like cattle when it comes to press freedoms (I'll start with the internet proxy on that one)

Editor said...

& today Al Khaleej Times:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2007/November/theuae_November322.xml§ion=theuae&col=

Kyle said...

Editor - Here's a quick list of HTML codes for you. Please scroll down to HTML Tags Chart and follow text in 2nd line, 3rd column to link your articles.

moviemania said...

It's really sad hearing about these issues. A very adequate example of the UAE's situation and contradictions. I really don't know when it's going to progress and when we can get our basic freedoms.

It's no surprise, though. I thought it was obvious that their is no real "law" system here. They don't even think about showing ID.

I was once followed by some jackass CID in an (obviously) unmarked car who tried to make me stop. I didn't know who the hell he was so I obviously didn't, he only showed me his ID when I eventually stopped at my house.

You are basically at the mercy of your captors, your treatment depends on how they're feeling.

If a woman is abused and goes to the police, they make her husband come pick her up and sign a document that he promises he won't do it again. I don't think I need to say that this doesn't usually work.

moviemania said...

In my own experience, the CID only showed me the ID after the car stopped and not while he was following me for about 20 minutes. He had many chances to flash me his ID, but he didn't.

Not everyone can have a lawyer or afford it sometimes. Obviously with the system as it is, the best way to protect yourself is to have one.

People like bkly_in_dubai who are sponsored by their owbn government especially should have a lawyer because you just don't have freedom of speech here. Anything that can be deemed as slightly 'offensive' should be handled with care.

SD doesn't mention specific sheikhs and avoids any direct/specific attacks on the government because that can get you in trouble. That's the way it is at the moment and if you want to protect yourself you have to go by the rules.

There was a lot of shock when the Sex and Dubai blog was blocked, but I knew from the start it was just a matter of time. Personally, I really liked it and it was a shame that it was blocked but it very obviously crossed the line. Despite all the innuendos and subtlety, it was still too explicit for the Ministry's or whoever's tastes.

When I was in 8th grade, we were told to censor things in our literature textbook. One of those things was an image of a telephone pole. We had to glue pieces of paper on the area that resembled a cross.

I don't know when things are going to change, I pray that it's soon. But for now everyone should be aware that you really can't say what you want and you have to very wary about sensitive topics.

BuJ said...

Oh man, what's happened here?

'm from Norfolk, England and I'm going to Dubai for Christmas to see my brother who is working for Emirates. Do I need a lawyer just in case? They told me to get travel and medical insurance which was easy on the web, but does anyone know where I can find a good lawyer?

Also please if anyone has an idea of the costs that would be most appreciated. I'm so glad I passed by this blog as I never thought the UAE can be so dangerous.

nick said...

Buj,

Ticket from UK to Dubai – 3,000 Dirhams

Lawyer in Dubai – 15,000 Dirhams

Freedom of speech - priceless

nick said...

moviemania,

Thanks for sharing the telephone pole censorship story!! ROFL. Actually, my first thought was the phallic connotations of the pole, but it got better.

When it is going to change?
It will change the day the ruler dons a Boy George outfit and declares YMCA the national anthem.

It's fun to stay at the C.I.D
It's fun to stay at the C.I.D.
They have everything for young men to enjoy
You can hang out with all the boys...

Ibn Battuta said...

Nick, you certainly outdid yourself with the YMCA tune - though am a little concerned that you actually know the lyrics! :S Fortunately for Syed he wasn't doing research in Egypt, otherwise the YMCA allusion would be much more appropriate!

Syed's experience is definitely worth documenting, as it goes beyond usual modes of censorship - it is a story of intimidation and oppression. I, like native informant, had no problems when I was in Dubai carrying out my research.

Regretfully, I doubt there is a country that isn't free of such oppression! The experience of Sami al-Arani in the US is only one of several similar encounters. While such stories are usually the exception, the mere fact of their existence is a form of intimidation of future researchers who will proceed cautiously and practice self-censorship.

It’s sad that comments tend to so quickly deteriorate into mindless bantering of us versus them, here versus there accusations, counter accusations, and, in some cases, utter non-sense as with the comments from "editor". It would be a great day if we ever could move beyond the nationalist defensiveness and the colonialist righteousness, which ultimately lead us nowhere – neither deepens our understanding nor provides any attempt at an avenue of dealing with and resisting such deplorable actions on the part of the (any) state.

Khaled-ad said...

Samuraisam
Before you picture us as a cattle, you need to study the history and the culture of the UAE, specifically Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We are more than content with the life we have. We are happy that we don’t have a complete freedom of speech because we know that people like you will abuse this freedom leading this country to a state of chaos which is exactly what haters would like to see. You guys have no right to tell us how our country should be run. Go run your nation of sheep because this how it goes in the first world countries >>>>>http://youtube.com/watch?v=yPeE7dRtNlo
Sevensummits!!!!!
Sometimes I wonder who appointed you to be our watchdog. I do not understand why you are defending a person who is working against his country. If he wanted to save all these troubles he went through, he could simply get an approval for his suspicious job from the government. Today, I just read in AL Ettihad Newspaper and Gulfnews how subjective Human Right Watch is. They always focus on the negative side of an issue and ignore all the efforts the UAE exerted. Why are these organizations only active in the third world countries leaving the corrupted countries messing around? I am afraid that in few years we will be the laborers and the laborers will be our sponsors just to comply with the unattainable requirements by these organizations.
Dude, we do not accept to be represented by others. Do we lack the merit of expressing our concerns? Definitely not because you won’t see me refuting what u say. If you have concerns related to you person, you are more than welcome to share them with us. Adopting others’ positions without their permission is considered nothing but intrusion.

SevenSummits said...

I just wonder why people continuously try to either divert or even ridicule such deplorable actions in an act of nationalist defensiveness. BuJ nobody ever said that the UAE is not one of the safest countries in the world, so what does your comment have to do with the ongoing “intimidation and oppression” in the UAE that we are talking about? Moviemania reminded me with her interesting comment of also mentioning the admirable efforts of Sharla Musabih (City of Hope) and the troubles she went though, since they fall into the same category.

BuJ said...

Hi Seven Summits,

I see what you're saying but I have to stand up with I feel something unfair has been said.

We need balance here, and I'm just angry that anything critical about the UAE is published so quickly and without researching if it's true, but anything like this published about other countries like Israel for example is always treated with healthy skepticism.

As for Sharla I have every respect for her and her noble efforts, in fact I have a whole post dedicated to her which you can examine with your microscope here: http://bujassem.blogspot.com/2006/03/sharla-chapter.html

Let's put it this way, I am not stupid nor naive, neither are you. However I'd have given this post a bit more serious thought if some evidence was provided. I realise it's not as straightforward as we'd like, but one cannot make sweeping statements without solid ground to stand on.

Let's be objective here and take everything we are given with a bit of salt, even if we we like the food and the chef.

SevenSummits said...

… and Khaled – wooow – I am sensing some extreme aggression here?!

First of all I am not defending anyone and only used this case to demonstrate what “intimidation” in the UAE looks like in practice and also the fact that it does not only concern foreigners. Nobody is claiming that there are not many countries out there where things are even worse, but this is not within the scope of this discussion. I would like to thank you for commenting though, because it is very interesting to read your personal opinion about someone that is obviously “an activist and fighting for the implementation of HR” in the UAE. If you have been reading my comment, you must have seen me criticize his approach several times and that should tell you that I am quite capable of maintaining a neutral view. Just like many others in the UAE as well as around the globe, I got extremely irritated with some of his radical views expressed in the foreign media, especially in respect to those hilarious moral lectures. For someone that has a known steady relationship with a European professor, it is way out of place to be complaining about the Western threat to Islamic values. Personally I feel that this is the best known example of the ongoing hypocrisy in the UAE society. A little more honesty and less deception, especially from intellectuals, would be highly appreciated. Yet!!!! …. I have the highest respect for someone that is fighting for a special cause and will stand up for the deprived – particularly in the UAE or any other country with similar framework conditions. (and pro bono as well!)
It seems to me however that you have been ill informed about the civil society movement in the UAE and in consideration of the “lack of freedom of expression”, I am not really surprised. When it comes to Gulf News or any similar publication, I would be careful even believing the date, leave alone the editorial content.

I am not a member of HRW or Amnesty International and not even such a big fan, yet your statement that these organizations are only focusing on developing nations is somewhat incorrect. (and not the topic here either!) Just a simple question you will need to ask yourself: Let us hypothetically replace all those foreign laborers and maids with UAE nationals with none of the conditions changed – same labor camps, medical care, etc. – will you tell me that they will be treated fairly? I believe that many would like to see an answer to this question, so don’t feel shy! :-)

Have you ever seen me deny our (Western) hypocritical approaches to foreign policy? Have you ever read in any of my comments that we should impose our version of democracy on anyone? … or that Islam (in its pure form) is the cause of all evil? In fact, I keep on saying the opposite and continuously highlight that any change needs to be endemic!

Last not least you seem to share the usual lack of appreciation of science and let me remind you that all those comforts you enjoy are the outcome of the application of knowledge. If you wish not to be disturbed by foreign opinion or research, you will need to escape to a village in the Amazon and if you are really unlucky you might get the odd anthropologist or biologist creeping in. (so sorry IBN :-) ) Anyhow, chances are good that you will be left in peace! If you are however totally dependent on foreign labor and expertise, you will unfortunately have to live with the intrusion. I mean there is always the option to kick everyone out and close your borders??? (We will be able to send those care packages from the air, no problem!) Unfortunately you still belong to the most underdeveloped part of this world and as long as you will not be able to overcome the knowledge gap, foreigners will be trying to compensate for the minuscule research output in your region and development experts will be searching for feasible solutions to overcome that vicious-cycle. I hate to break it to you, but you will not be as happy, when we are all gone and you will need to manage your place yourself. Living on borrowed time and an economy that is build on the dependence and exploitation of foreigners will put you on the international agenda.

i*maginate said...

Ladies & Gentlemen, time for the prize-giving ceremony:

Drum roll...

i*maginate = self-appointed Dubai/UAE PR Queen (according to a banned "Anonymous'" comment)

localexpat = Local-lover

kyle = peacemaker

nick = master of the bullet-point list

moviemania = dazed and confused in the USA

samuraisam = UN Sec Gen

7up = fast-typer, hypocrite, longest comments

And a memorable quote..."A little more honesty and less deception, especially from intellectuals, would be highly appreciated."

buj = 8*

khaled_ad = star of the show

Awards ceremony takes place @ the residence of 7up, in one of the leafiest suburbs of Hamburg. 7ups provided free; fast-typing lessons upon request.

Kindly confirm attendance.

Khaled-ad said...

Of course If locals are to be replaced by the laborers, they would receive a special treatment. If a citizen is not any different from a foreigner, then what is the point of acquiring the citizenship at the first place? I would be the first Emirati who give up his citizenship if i am going to be treated equally with the laborers. I am not saying we need to kick you all out of the UAE. I dont like to be another North Korea. I would love to live all my life during the 1980s. Is it possible?

Almulhama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Al Mulhama, The Inspired said...

Well, if you look internationally, yes including the U.S. , U.K., and all other nations considered to be THE most civilized,

If you observe what is done to bloggers in Egypt,

What is done to normal people in Libya, Syria, Iraq (then & now), Lebanon, Yemen, KSA, Bahrain even! and all other Arab countries,

If you look at what happens in Korea, China, Malaysia, Australia, S.Africa, Italy, France

(I feel I'm begining to sound more like Kipling, perhaps I should write a parody on "IF" the poem as the several ones written on "Howl" by Ginsberg... hmmm now that is an appropriate poem for this section, Poem: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15308
History et al: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howl)

If you look at almost all the planet, you will definitely see that the UAE is perhaps the most humane and Dubai THE gentlest.

This is not in defence of what had been carried out, nor is it an accusation to all those nations, this is simply stating the facts.

It is good to observe, but seriously there exists no utopic place where one can speak their mind without fear, hell, there are places where you can't think freely 'cause there's some secret police in your mind, when your own thoughts are under scrutiny.

It is quite intersting to read comments that speak of rights and 'how dare they' do this or that, yes that's all fne... It is a real shame, an unfortunate price that a courageous person with a need to speak objectively pays.

It is painful to know that the reprecussions affect children.

We do not live in a Utopia, it never existed and never will.

Just look at all the comments, we all try to out-do each other by occassional aggression in expression, and, for obvious reasons, whether we like it or not some comments are deleted... so there is always a certain form of policing and censorship for whatever plausible/sensible reason whomever is monitoring this site.

I guess what I'd like to emphasize is that it is really worse elsewhere.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Well it seems that Syed had been trying hard, during this past year, to get some compensation for the loss of his hard disc (or the trauma that may have been inflicted on him or on his family) through the American and the British official channels (since he has dual citizenship). And reading his blog it transpires that he’s got nothing from both. So now he goes for the press. (otherwise you’d wonder why the article was published one year late)

DUBAI JAZZ said...

I totally agree with Al Mulhama, the UAE is doing a very good job of providing a high standard of security and safety for its residents with the least disturbances and intrusions in their own lives. This is a very delicate balance in a such a turbulent region, and if the system have some glitches here and there then it is only normal.
At least, Syed was not imprisoned at all. He was not kept in a state of incommunicado. He wasn’t ordered to pay a fine. (note to the idiots: I am saying that he should have been)… In fact, one of the Arab bloggers (Yaman Salahi) was ordered by an American court to pay 75000 $ fine under the pretenses of defamation and libel, only because he was doing an investigative works in his blog about a movie producer named Lee Kaplan…

SevenSummits said...

BuJ,
I totally agree with you that news like this or even in general about “foreign countries” should always be treated with healthy skepticism. There is way too much misinformation floating around. However, since I know several people that had similar encounters – besides experiencing those “intimidation attempts” myself, I certainly believe his narrative. Nevertheless, while it would be interesting to find out more about the nature of his research, the overall uncertainty about the “freedom of expression” still remains. Rosh was kind enough to tell me about the original unedited story on his blog and I would like to say that it will be very difficult for anyone to stay focused and rational after such an experience. We are all humans, not machines! I cannot even recall, how many times I have gone through such procedures in numerous countries: It comes as a fringe benefit of hanging around in crises areas – nobody is in good mood :-( - but this is the paradox “all these countries, where such incidences are the norm, will not pretend to be a tourist paradise or multicultural hub!” Or have you heard of anyone taking a vacation or conducting normal research in Eastern Congo or a similar setting? Of course not! Remember that we talked about Saudi? Now, everyone knows exactly what is “not allowed” over there and they will basically tell up front: “If you don’t like it, don’t come!” Not friendly, but straightforward and I feel absolutely safe in the Kingdom! The UAE does not do that and this creates a lot of confusion – one feasible solution that IBN requested would be for the UAE to articulate very clearly what they want. For instance in respect to research they could follow the example of other developing countries, to issue a Research Permission and request a State Security clearance. This is a way to state control all ongoing research within its boundaries and putting everyone into a prison that breaks the law, while giving the rest of the world the appropriate “honest” message.

Thanks for the link, as well as the post on your blog – well take a wild guess who is helping her initiative legally in the UAE?
[As for the comments – I am all with Balushi, of course - :-)]

SevenSummits said...

Khaled,
Unfortunately I have not seen the UAE in the 80ties and believe that I really missed something very beautiful. :-)

Thanks for the quick response: However you are confusing “citizenship” with the general legal system of a country. If for instance if there are laws in respect to minimum wages or H&S regulations in the industrialized countries, they will apply to anyone legally working in that particular country. In fact, if you will come and work here in Germany, you may even be treated better than me in some instances (e.g. speeding tickets) and you will enjoy exactly the same social protections that apply to anyone. Millions of Turkish people, without a German citizenship are receiving social security, health services or a pension, sometimes even if they have not worked in this country. What you are implying – and I believe that this was not intentional (!!?) – that a different set of ethics should apply to people from different cultural backgrounds? So if you would eventually be treated equally with the laborers (which will quite likely be the case in maybe 50 years from now, if things remain unchanged!), you will seek political asylum in maybe Germany or Canada, with already the knowledge that you will be treated with respect and that those corresponding citizens will stand up for your rights!
The paradox here is that you have indirectly admitted that the live of the average laborers is not that “content” and that you wouldn’t like to be in their place – now that is in my opinion what has made this post already worthwhile. We can plant a symbolic tree for this one! LOL :-)

DB Jazz,
In a way defamation and libel are very critical issues and I do not believe that anyone should be allowed to just accuse another person without the existence of solid evidence. General criticism however falls under the “Freedom of Expression” concept and is a totally different ballgame.

Nick,
ROFL :-) – I am still singing!!!! (These are those totally conspicuous dudes that are hanging around in the hotel lobby and visually checking out the tourist girls – correct?? Only time I ever indirectly met one was in Al Ain and he was pretty drunk – maybe off duty?)
Damn that much for a lawyer in the UAE? Seriously??? Now I am really apprehensive …

... .and our diverting princess is back!
i*maginate,(aka still Desert Rose)
dear, if you are accusing me of being hypocritical than please explain with proof where exactly you draw that conclusion?

If you have been attentive, you would have noticed that I did not type that long comment, but choose not link it, to protect privacy (another blogger has linked the original statement a while ago).

The typing lessons will be a “two finger get lucky thing” :-) – but it is quite fast actually. I do not know how to type! and since I need to use different language keyboards all the time, it would not be so efficient.

The place is not in a suburb, but in a forest and you will do the cooking!!! (I will insist on this Islamic role thing!) Maybe Khaled will be a gentleman and help you with the barbecue –

- but who on earth won?
- Can we vote democratically?
- What is 8*???
- ... and could you at least contribute just one line to the topic, please?

i*maginate said...

7up, I am not contributing to anything unless you invite me and the fellow blogger-awards winners to your suburbial forest-home.

"Hypocrite" I labelled you due to all your comments on more-or-less on each post here on the UAE comm blog. Forgot to respond to the nazi-comment on the now 52-comment post just down a few posts below?

You are a famous hypocrite, no need for the princess to support her case with any quotes.

"Desert Rose" - I like it.

You are "Koenig Sieben" or how do you like "Sieben Sterne" - choose which is democratically efficient ;-)

In response to your Q's, 8* is buj, and the star of the show is khaled_ad

Mr. 7up, whichever your democratically elected nickname might be (I personally prefer siebensterne), my "line to the topic" is when is the celebration for freedom of speech in the forest suburbs at your home?

Cheers from Dubai LOL

nick said...

Oh dear. This is getting tedious.
Whatever discussion we have about democracy or the lack of it, personal liberties and its restrictions we end up in the red corner with shills for Dubai Inc. like Dubai Jazz and others, more or less 'inspired', defending Dubai as the “best possible (and biggest and tallest) totalitarian regime in the world, ever”.

Who’s runner up? The best Nazi regime in the world, ever? The best Stalinist regime of the world?

Arabs don't do irony I guess.

And in the blue corner we get a German conflict specialist who talks for a living and specializes in instigating verbal conflicts. Do you, Sevensummits, get paid for 'spreading the word'?
Nice job if you can get it – because it looks to me a whole lot like mental wanking.

Great.
I expect world peace any day now.

Bollocks to all this!

SevenSummits said...

Nick,
False! I never talk for a living! You will only get it in a written format, so that will give anyone the option to back out :-) No torture!
Yo, “getting paid for spreading those awful Western ideologies” and my company is conveniently based in Langley, VA – any more questions?!
ROFL! ;-)))) You will get my vote for winning – that is for sure!

BuJ said...

oh yeah.. I*maginate.. what's an 8*?

Editor said...

100% true:
"Before you picture us as a cattle, you need to study the history and the culture of the UAE, specifically Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We are more than content with the life we have. We are happy that we don’t have a complete freedom of speech because we know that people like you will abuse this freedom leading this country to a state of chaos which is exactly what haters would like to see. You guys have no right to tell us how our country should be run. Go run your nation of sheep because this how it goes in the first world countries "

samuraisam said...

100% fucking stupid:
"Before you picture us as a cattle, you need to study the history and the culture of the UAE, specifically Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We are more than content with the life we have. We are happy that we don’t have a complete freedom of speech because we know that people like you will abuse this freedom leading this country to a state of chaos which is exactly what haters would like to see. You guys have no right to tell us how our country should be run. Go run your nation of sheep because this how it goes in the first world countries "

1.) I've been living in the UAE for 17 years and I'm quite aware of Dubai's history.
2.) "We are more than content with the life we have." No. YOU are CONTENT. You =/= the entire local population of the UAE.
3.) "we know that people like you will abuse this freedom leading this country to a state of chaos": And how exactly am I abusing freedom of speech? And if I am abusing it, it must mean you already have too much freedom of shit which (surprise, surprise) means you are totally unaware of the status of your own country and you are a nonce. And if you're so against freedom of speech, it would delight you to know your government has been trying to increase it in the past 10 years; proving once more that almost every local-critic-critic around here's opinion doesn't count for shit and they don't know anything about the history of their own country.
4.) "exactly what haters would like to see": What the hell? "hater" What? Are you a 13 year old girl behind that stupid screen name? Do everyone a favour, go listen to your stupid Hillary Duff albums and STFU.
5.) "You guys have no right to tell us how our country should be run." Should I quote some sheikh's statements here about freedom of press and ask you if you're calling your own rulers a bunch of liars?
6.)"Go run your nation of sheep because this how it goes in the first world countries": It sounds as if you're one of those idiots who thinks that someone who thinks freedom of speech is half-intelligent must be an American but it doesn't really matter because you're a hater... just kidding, it's because you're a total moron and it'll be at least 300 years before you can differentiate between someone offering criticism of your country and someone spitting onto a portrait of your mother.

Editor said...

Hey there,
it's not very wise to insult people who post opinions on your blog.
Where is the freedom of speech that you so much defend?
Or you are just looking to sparkle contradictions just to keep the status counters up and high?

Khaled-ad said...

samuraisam

You are more than welcome to offer your criticism and I highly appreciate it. However, your tone is far away from being critical, rather insulting. I could keep swearing if that would reinforce my viewpoint, but it leads to nowhere but losing my credibility as a respectable commenter.
Living 17 years in UAE alone does not mean you are fully aware why things are being the way they are. Even getting in touch with Locals is not enough if you do not know their origin.

Editor said...

Samuraism,
on a lighter note: I am not a moron because my age is triple than the required and my mental development reaches higher state, allowing me to communicate in 5 languages, as the forth is English.
Being born and raised in Europe, I can find explanations for your response.
However, being here as long as you and having first hand knowledge on the local society, I can tell that the western civilisation has negative impact on it and it's not really welcome.
Simply: people were lot happier before the Dubai shopping festival was inaugurated (1994) and the high rise developments ruined one simpler and quieter lifestyle.
The freedom of speech was seldom discussed and indeed people were content with what they got and who they are.
Please note: who they are!

Freedom of speech...great example: your rude response will never appear if censura was enforced on the blog or at least if you are aware of it.
I wouldn't feel insulted by your remarks.
We both will not waste time and emotions typing useless words.
The censura would have saved our coexistence around....selavi....freedom of speech....

Now,
many thanks for conversation, but I am no longer curious to follow it.
Hillary Duff may indeed offer better entertainment...

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Nick
Glad I was helpful to prove your point.
Maher Al Arrar sends his best regards.

Khaled-ad said...

Editor
You really left nothing for me to say. Thanks god that I finally found someone on this earth who can understand what we are going through. You just exactly summed up my points. I would call you the“Star of the show” if Imaginate does not mind ;). Guys, You all need to read EDITOR’s previous comment thoughtfully. Why can’t the rest reach the same conclusion you just came up with? Is it ignorance? Is it stubbornness? Any clue?

samuraisam said...

khaled-ad:
"but it leads to nowhere but losing my credibility as a respectable commenter."
No, to lose it, you'd first actually have to have some credibility as a respectable commenter.
"Even getting in touch with Locals is not enough if you do not know their origin."
So what is that supposed to mean? Are you saying my friends are Iranians or something? That's a pretty hefty insult; although you do not exactly swear, the things you say would be viewed far worse by many.

editor:
However, being here as long as you and having first hand knowledge on the local society, I can tell that the western civilisation has negative impact on it and it's not really welcome.
Simply: people were lot happier before the Dubai shopping festival was inaugurated (1994) and the high rise developments ruined one simpler and quieter lifestyle.

Yeah well; thats the problem isn't it? It is YOUR government taking this step to modernity yet it seems to be most people in the UAE detesting some of the trademark properties of a modern society (such as freedom of speech or a subtle hint of intelligence) which makes absolutely no sense; if your government is whoring off it's people then you need to accept that fact and stop trying to pin the tail on the foreign donkeys. I think it is key that you remember that not every expat enjoys the modern tinge Dubai has embraced; yet as Dubai tries to become more 'legit' press freedom is going to remain in the limelight; no sane country can counter legitimate criticism of its laws and practices by saying "LOOK AT THE US!!11" and the more you do it the more I'm going to call you an idiot.

If you're going to refrain from criticizing your government while at the same time saying that you do not appreciate development, then you are being ignorant of your own opinion; you either agree with the governments actions or not.

"The freedom of speech was seldom discussed and indeed people were content with what they got and who they are."
Totally incorrect; freedom of speech is and always has been a big topic in the Middle East. Most of the recent (last 5 years) increase in talking about freedom of speech is due to the large uptake of internet usage worldwide.

Editor said...

I hate to come back and explain, but the government is protecting the native people and their lifestyle.
You are misinformed.
I didn't mention the Dubai Shopping Festival by chance. Back in the early nineties was already established that the oil in Dubai will soon dry up. Therefore a whole new strategy was developed. The strategy was to attract foreigners as visitors at first. It started with the shopping festival as already Dubai was popular as a trade point in the region. Than few other measures followed, as the multiple free zones, the 99 years residency and the freehold. In the last few years it went out of hand.
But from day 1, the reason behind all these dramatic changes was the need. The people of Dubai desperately needed to raise an independent from the oil income in order to protect their lifestyles and the future of their children.
After followed the greed, so natural.......who ever got some money wanted more and more.
But the government did well and toke care about the people, gave them many chances to raise income from various industries, improved the social services and created the word "emiratisation" etc...
This is a very particular Dubai case.
However, this is not what is happening in the Gulf and the surrounding emirates.

&
Khaled,
thanks for the (*), I am enjoying it daily next to Dubai Chronicle
:-)

samuraisam said...

Yeah, but no one has ever (not even once) stopped the endless praising of the government. I'm not sure the government did what was in the people's best interests (I personally believe after the burj al arab, things started to go sour; the beach began to become a commodity for stupid hotels to monopolize) and as for having additional money due to all the development... having all the money in the world isn't going to help you when you're stuck in traffic for 2 hours or having a stress induced heart attack in your early fourties.

Hesham said...

It happens, just look at Gitmo and see how many are reporters, journalists and photographers that have been held for years.....

Fullbright??? So what?

CG said...

dsf-1996 fyi

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