17 September, 2008

Book not banned?

"ABU DHABI // The National Media Council denied last night that it had banned a study of Dubai written by a former professor at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University and said approval for publication in the UAE had been granted.

There were claims in the British press that Dr Christopher Davidson’s book, Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, had been banned due to its content.

But yesterday, the NMC confirmed it had already been approved for countrywide distribution, said Peter Hellyer, the council’s information adviser.

“The council felt the book should be taken seriously and so we’ve studied it carefully,” said Mr Hellyer. “The process takes time and Dr Davidson told the media the academic book had been banned before the National Media Council had even seen it.”


...

Mr Hellyer said that while there had never been a ban, the study contained “a plethora of errors”.

“There is a statement that there was no tarmac highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai until the mid-1990s, and no all-weather road between Dubai and Fujairah until 2006,” Mr Hellyer said. “These are clearly completely wrong and it makes one doubt the quality and depth of his research.”

He also took issue, he said, with a section regarding the discovery of Dubai’s oil fields.

Mr Davidson “writes that in the mid-1960s, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, the Ruler of Dubai, created a company to operate Dubai’s on-shore oil fields,” Mr Hellyer said. “The only on-shore oil fields were not discovered until 1982.”


more here

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have just finished reading the book and it is excellent. Yes there may be the odd fact in the book which is incorrect, or the year is slightly wrong. However almost every statement in the book is backed up by a reference allowing the reader to check the sources.

I'd highly recommend the book to anyone wishing to get a better impression of the Emirates.

Anonymous said...

I have just finished reading the book and it is excellent. Yes there may be the odd fact in the book which is incorrect, or the year is slightly wrong. However almost every statement in the book is backed up by a reference allowing the reader to check the sources.

I'd highly recommend the book to anyone wishing to get a better impression of the Emirates.

Kyle said...

Mr. Hellyer can up with as many counter-arguments and label them 'a plethora of errors'. However, he seems to forget that errors exist in every country / system in this world.

As a media man, he should know that it takes a brave man to own up and admit those errors so that counter-measures are put into place to fix those errors.

By simply labeling Mr. Davidson's book 'a plethora of errors' proves that he is living in denial along with the people who issue his paycheck. The right thing for him to do (that is if he has any power) is to use that power to recommend corrective measures.

Anonymous said...

Real story here perhaps?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/15/uae.denies.banned.book

Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/

2008/sep/15/uae.denies.banned.book

long link more than two lines

taty said...

As a law graduate i know this is vry libellous, even in UAE. Two people are discussed by name but they didnt allow the victim person to comment. I will never be able to trust the national again.

Peter Hellyer said...

Kyle said:

"Mr. Hellyer can up with as many counter-arguments and label them 'a plethora of errors'. However, he seems to forget that errors exist in every country / system in this world."

Yes, of course errors exist in every country and system. In the UAE, and everywhere else. And in books that purport to be based on exhaustive research.
I made no counter-arguments of any kind in my statements. I just said that the book had a plethora of errors - and cited just three of them. And I didn't say that the book itself was "a plethora of errors" - just that there WERE "a plethora of errors" in it.

Come on - the book says there was no all-weather road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai until the mid-1990s, and no all weather road between Dubai and Fujairah until 2006. That's not only inaccurate, but pretty sloppy in my view. The author was actually living in the UAE from at least 2004 to 2006. Didn't he ever go to the East Coast? And with mistakes like that, it's reasonable, i would think, to examine some of the other statements more closely.

Kyle says again:
"As a media man, he should know that it takes a brave man to own up and admit those errors so that counter-measures are put into place to fix those errors."

I'm happy to admit my mistakes - but the errors of which I spoke were those of the author of the book, not mine.
The NMC didn't jump into rapid action to review the book when it was first submitted, in August - but that is a holiday month. But it went through the process pretty rapidly after that.
The publisher says that the book was sent to bookshops in June - two months before it was even submitted for review. The bookshops and distributors know very well that books can't be sold before they've been approved, so why did the publisher wait until August before formally submitting the book for review?
Anyway, UAE residents can read the book for themselves now, like anyone else. Many, I think, will pick up some of the errors.
If the book sets out to present itself as an academic analysis, it's reasonable to expect it to be accurate. If it has "a plethora" of easily-identifiable errors, and it has, it's also reasonable, in my view, to question the quality of the research that went into it.
It's a real pity, in my view, that there ARE so many mistakes in the book - that takes away from the value of the rest of it.

Finally, Kyle says:
"The right thing for him to do (that is if he has any power) is to use that power to recommend corrective measures."

Yes, indeed. We'll be submitting an extensive - if not exhaustive - list of the errors to the publisher. Perhaps they can be corrected if the book goes into a second edition.

John B. Chilton said...

The NMC's Peter Hellyer responds here. (3rd comment.)

Kyle said...

Mr. Hellyer:

I appreciate your taking the time to write back extensively to Mr. Chilton (at his blog) and here.

What I am going to do now is find this book and read it. I guess that's the best step forward before jumping to conclusion(s).

Thank you :)

Best, Kyle

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