April 2006 Archives
April 30, 2006
Shadid on Dubai
Anthony Shadid continues to do first-rate journalism for the Washington Post. This Sunday's article is a comprehensive, warts-and-all look at Dubai & its boom. It's well worth reading in its entirety, covering the boom atmosphere, the mad internationalism of the scene, and the disquiet with which these changes have been greeted by many Emiratis. (One thing he doesn't cover is the continued pervasive sexism of the criminal code, as documented by Secret Dubai on many occasions.)
But I'd like to focus on his section on the Asian migrant workers. Shadid gives a quick summary of the overall situation, including the recent labor unrest at the Burj Dubai, and then interviews a couple Bangladeshi migrants. The key to the whole issue as I see it resides in this quote from one of them:
"We're here to earn money, not for happiness," Amin said. "No one comes to this country for happiness."
April 29, 2006
Dubai Buy II: Revenge of the UAE
According to the New York Times:
President Bush is expected on Friday to announce his approval of a deal under which a Dubai-owned company would take control of nine plants in the United States that manufacture parts for American military vehicles and aircraft, say two administration officials familiar with the terms of the deal. . . .
April 28, 2006
The Goatee of Enlightenment
When Michael Totten writes his next book, I hope someone blurbs him as "the rightful heir of Thomas Friedman". It would be true on so many levels.
This week, the Goatee of Enlightenment followed the Moustache of Understanding from Beirut to, well, Tel Aviv at least. While there, he demonstrates all he's learned at the Master's feet, passing along commonplaces as though they were wisdom. But then he rockets off into a stupidity that's all his own, as he finds a new source of hope for Israeli-Arab relations in their relationship with the Bedouins:
Bedouin also serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. The skills they learn as desert wanderers make them the perfect trackers.
Because, you know, they get +10 to their "spot" and "sneak" rolls, and can train Tracking to level 37. But I digress. Let's see the true moment of happy cultural exchange:
April 27, 2006
I thought that since the discussion has gotten longish, that a link to my comment on a recent quality Emily Wax Op Ed on Dar Fur and the muddled thinking on the same is in order.
April 26, 2006
Islamic Banking/Finance - Questions & Discussion
Not to depart too much from the important topical stuff, particularly discussion of the recent horrors in Egypt, but I want to solicit our brains trust to introduce me and other readers to a more general MENA-relevant concept I hear quite a bit about but know little of.
Sinai: the Bombing Fad, Egypt and the decline of good solid craftmanship
Well, it appears as if a whole fad for the youngsters has broken out in the Egyptian Sinai, bombing the neighbors.
While I am sure it is all good clean fun the Egyptian state wil take a dim view of what it claims is the Sinai Bedouine's new hobby.
April 24, 2006
Dahab: Why Egypt's anti-terrorism strategy just doesn't work
The first time I went to Dahab was in the early 90s. Back then it was the "Goa of the Middle East" - a conglomeration of hut camps on a 2 mile stretch of coastline, a gorgeous coral reef less than 50m off the beach, relaxed attitudes and plenty of hash to go around. It was the perfect spot to relax after the throngs of the Nile valley, the chaos of Cairo, or the religious zealotry of Jerusalem. Initially a place through which one passed on the way from Africa to Asia, or Europe to Africa (or the other way around), it soon became a destination unto itself, attracting Israeli and European teenagers and students who wanted to "get away from it all" but didn't have the cash to travel far.
The Future is Female: Simple-minded Journalism, Economics & Progress in MENA
An article from The Observer caught my eye for having a bit too much of the rather too typical simple-mindedness with respect to the 'great inclusion' of women in the MENA work forces.
I should, I would think, preface my comments by emphasising that there are a lot of genuine positives about women entering the MENA workforce. However, this article rather cartoonishly confuses elite women entering the workforce with broader developments, or women's participation with other structural issues which are barriers to employment growth in the region.
Takfiri Encore: Dahab, Egypt Resort Bombed
Sadly it appears that the murderous Takfiri / al-Qaeda scum have struck again, in Dahab, the quasi hippy-ish Egyptian resort on the Red Sea coast of the Sinai.
Initial Reuters reporting suggests bombing of the Dahab market area. Dahab is heavily frequented by Egyptians, although foreigners also have a presence there.
Al Jazeera has an initial report of 12 dead and 90 injured.
[Updated: FT has via William Wallace and Heba Saleh Bombs in Egypt point to desert terrorists an interesting article on the Daheb bombings]
April 23, 2006
Morocco & Media bis: Activist Pimping & Sober Reality (Updated)
Our dear friend, Bou Ardvrk once again (as a media specialist would) has another comment on the Moroccan media that has managed to annoy me somewhat, although it raises an important problem
The annoyance stems from his using as center piece some ill-written exagerated activist squeeling from "Open Democracy" - which appears to be some naive bit of internet activist pseudo-journalism site for those who believe in democracy. I suppose I also believe in democracy, although I do not particularly believe in internet activism or democracy activists.
However, the underlying issue, the Moroccan government's apparent new tactic in using court cases to slap down media that have gotten "out of line" and the highly peculiar circumstances of the case in question, Le Journal Hebdomidaire, a weekly of relatively recent vintage with quite a lot of spunk - although also with somewhat questionable journalistic standards. But then one could write that about any media organ in Morocco come to think of it.
April 22, 2006
Peace in our time?
Let us hope this means an end to talk of airstrikes and invasions. I do not much care for the idea of being caught up in the Gulf's fourth shooting war since 1980.
Waiting for Good Doha: Qatar - Dubai = Soul?
Wall Street Journal Reporter Yasmine El-Rashidi cellphoned this comment within the past few weeks to Christopher Lydon's Open Source:
I think Qatar will eventually — quietly — rise above Dubai. . . . Qatar’s growth is more startling than Dubai’s. In terms of the “material” offerings . . . it has everything Dubai has but not branded as the biggest and best in the same way. The difference between Doha and Dubai is soul. Doha’s Emir is a visionary in his own right, [he has] taken gas wealth and created self-sustaining industries, . . . [and] with it created hubs of culture in the region — the Qatar Islamic Museum . . . [is] exceptional. The Doha Debates . . . take place out of Doha’s Education City, which is evolving into a regional center. . . .
Not having been to both, I defer to learned Aqoul Gulfologists to evaluate. I also leave it to our cunning linguists to decide if Qatar is best pronounced Gudder, or Cutter, or Catarrh, or Guitar, etc.
April 21, 2006
Communications: Arab Media, American Officials, how often shall the twain meet?
Our fine friend, the Father of Aardvarks, has had an excellent series on US officials appearing on the ArabSats of late (as well as here re funding of Arab media, which merits some discussion here at 'Aqoul, if only so as to leave behind the odd convos about the Soviet Union).
However, the subject is in fact a serious one, which is the engagement of the US (and other Western officials) with the ArabSats and other Arab media. Abu Aardvark does concentrate exclusively on the US, but the question is a wider one. That being said, the US also has unique challenges in the area.
April 18, 2006
Islamofascists Brought Down the Soviet Union
I'm going to abuse my posting privileges to highlight the following two-comment exchange in the Sliced Turki posting:
April 16, 2006
Egypt: Fear and Anger for Copts in Alexandria
The Arabist links to a remarkable first-hand account by an Alexandrian blogger, Jar al Qamar of a knife attack on an Alexandria church, and what happened after. As tempers rise, the National Democratic Party rides to the rescue:
April 15, 2006
Sliced Turki: Saudi Newspaper Cans Candid Writer
Let us return from the world of Islamofashionism and its bikini waxing to the even hairier difficulties of independent-minded journalism in MENA. Fawaz Turki, the best English-language author of Palestinian origin (sorry, Eddie Said fans), has been fired by Arab News, a Saudi-based English language newspaper. His account is here. The earlier column that he believes broke the camel's back (assuming that's a permissible figure of speech on a MENA subject) is here, relating Indonesian repression in East Timor. The author (who is based in D.C.) feels his Saudi publishers or their patrons or their government couldn't handle criticism or even mention of the abuses of a fellow Muslim state. (Other columns of his are here, but you must insert "Fawaz Turki" in the "search" function.)
April 13, 2006
Dar Fur: The Bowl Spills Over - Coup d'Etat Manqué in Tchad
Some time back in commenting on the Dar Fur situation in The Soudan, I touched on potential spillover in a somewhat incoherent manner in Dar Fur spillovers: Tchad and a State of War.
Now it would appear that things have indeed spilled over although it is hard to say.
April 12, 2006
At the risk of getting out ahead of consensus
April 11, 2006
Morocco: Pimping Pleasure or Stalling Out? (Economist)
The present Economist contains an intriguing article covering part of my brief, and a somewhat neglected corner of the MENA world, Morocco. Morocco attracts rather little attention in the "Anglo Saxon" world, despite having racked up some interesting political and economic wins in the past year, so perhaps a quick commentary then on the article, and the state of things in this rather strategically located country.
Posted by The Lounsbury at 06:13 AM
| Comments (26)
Filed Under: Business, Private , Economic Development , Economic Policy , North Africa , Op-Ed , Political Development , Society & Culture
Baghdad Market: Canaries, Whores and Pimps
There remains something intriguing about the Baghdad exchange. At least for me, having worked through multiple incompleted deals whose ultimate consumation would take place on the Baghdad. An overview of the Exchange 3 years on, when (were it not for the festering and criminal incompetence of the US Administration in all its empty, idiotic posturing) we should have been reading of some contented Iraqis.
April 10, 2006
Brazilian Waxing, Feminism and a Dose of Perspective
[cross-posted from eerie]
Now that I've committed myself to elaborating on a previous entry about hijabs and conformity, here are my initial thoughts on Western feminism and Muslim women.
Actually, let me start with a useful, vaguely sexual anecdote, since this sort of thing seems to appeal to Aqoul's highly intellectual yet degenerate readership.
As some of you may recall, I attended a friend's wedding overseas last year. It was a ridiculously ostentatious 7-day event that included a side trip to a nearby beach resort for the wedding party. My role, as I understood it, was to assist the bride with her tedious pre-ceremony tasks, such as accompanying her to the salon where she had all the hair waxed off her arms, legs and pubic area.
Yes, all of it. No more hair "down there".
April 07, 2006
Atlanta's Safe, Miss Scarlett, Just 'The MSM' Talkin'
Ok, fellow "moonbats", all together now, as we've been corrected: there is no civil war going on in Iraq. There, feel better? Surely these people don't. Especially horrid Najaf shrine slaughter a short time ago by 3 suicide bombers.
April 06, 2006
Labour Rights in the Gulf
For decades now, the Gulf countries have built themselves up using a combination of abundant capital and cheap labour. Owing to their relatively small population bases and large oil revenues, importing workers from poor neighboring countries has been easy. Since the 1960s, each decade has seen a large rise in the numbers of expatriates in the Gulf. Proportions vary between the various countries, but the numbers are highest in the UAE, where non-citizens account for some 85% of the population and over 90% of the workforce (including 98% of the private sector).
April 02, 2006
From Cartoon Activism to Real-Life Activism
Back when the Danish cartoon controvery menaced the Earth, your humble narrator suggested that beneath the dopey-issue maelstrom, there was yet hope. It appears from this recent Washington Post story by the able and underrappreciated journalist in Saudi Arabia, Faiza Saleh Ambah, that I may not have been far off. I see, as I anticipated to be probable, that permanent activist networks may have been set off by the sincere, if silly, popular anger, as ordinary MENA citizens (the larger "pious middle" that did not smash things) may have become more accustomed to act and organize as never before. Such is the necessary vitamin for serious political development, even if the initial cause for organization was stupid or malevolent, as was the case with the anti-African riots that preceded Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China, for example .
April 01, 2006
New Month Open Discussion
In keeping with tradition, an open thread for readers to introduce themselves, ask questions, offer praise or complain in a pitiful fashion.
Not much to report in terms of site upgrades, but we have updated the About page with author biographies and icons. I've also started a personal blog for experimental coding and occasional off-topic rambling about things that interest me.
BTW, for those of you who haven't been paying attention, the Lebanese Civil War Reenactment post is an April Fool's joke.
Civil War Reenactors Come to Lebanon
UPDATE: The following story is an April Fools' Day hoax. In case you found it several months later by Googling "Lebanese Civil War" or "hot sexy arab Haifa Nancy", please note that it is NOT TRUE.
BEIRUT "No, you don't kill him over there!" Jack Karam runs down the narrow alleyway, a folded-up paper clutched in his left hand. Two young men in camo fatigues look up at him, and away from the two women and the old man they had been menacing with their submachineguns. Jack unfolds his poster-sized paper and starts pointing. The young men, the old man, and the two women gather about. There's a short discussion, Karam speaking in Southern-inflected English, the rest mostly in Arabic. Finally, they trudge a couple hundred yards through the dusty streets of Shatila camp and resume their positions. The two young men mime pulling the trigger, first on the old man, then on the two women, who collapse in a heap on the ground.
"That's more like it," says Karam.