18 February 2009

Dubai Festival of Censorship

Author Margaret Atwood has decided to withdraw from participating in the first Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature. She is withdrawing in protest of the Festival banning the book "The Gulf Between Us," by Geraldine Bedell. It seems one of the characters in Ms. Bedell's fictional novel is a gay sheikh in an unidentified Gulf Kingdom. The organizer of the Festival, Isobel Abulhoul, felt that the work "could offend certain cultural sensitivities."

According to the Festival's website, they claim the following list of values:
  • Literacy is the key to all knowledge
  • Literature is a unique and exciting mode of cross-cultural communication
  • Imagination, innovation, and talent should be nurtured
  • Education should be universal, stimulating and relevant
  • A wider awareness of Arabic language and culture will contribute to the future development of the region

Several other authors are now reconsidering their participation in the light of the censorship.

Tennis Troubles

The Wall Street Journal Europe has pulled their sponsorship of the WTA Dubai Open. The UAE has refused a visa to Israeli Shahar Peer citing security problems. However, most see it as retaliation for the recent difficulties in Gaza. Rupert Murdock said in a statement, "The Wall Street Journal's editorial philosophy is free markets and free people, and this action runs counter to the Journal's editorial direction."

In addition, the Tennis Channel has decided not to televise the event saying, "Preventing an otherwise qualified athlete from competing on the basis of anything other than merit has no place in tennis or any other sport, and has the unfortunate result of undermining the credibility of the very nature of competition itself."

Peer is ranked 48th.

One of Dubai's strategies for economic development is to become a major sports venue.

More Free Market

Further to the post below, now the Ministry of Labour has passed a decision regulating the temination of UAE nationals in the private sector. UAE nationals cannot be terminated for "flimsy reasons" and the company must show that they are "not efficient" or have violated labour laws.

13 February 2009

Yup, That's the Free Market in Action

The Commander in Chief of the Dubai Police has warned companies not to terminate UAE nationals if they downsize during the current global financial crisis.

He said that such acts violated the laws and norms of the country. He also said that the companies must keep UAE nationals employed in order to preserve the national identity.

He stated that the Dubai Police will "commercially boycott all companies that terminate UAE nationals without giving them any notice or a chance to search for another job under the pretext of the current economic meltdown."

11 February 2009

Valentines in the Sand

Saudi Arabia bans all things red before Valentines Day. Valentines Day is considered a pagan holiday by Muslims and is not to be celebrated. No red roses, no teddy bears and certainly no red pajamas. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice will be out in force to ensure that shop keepers comply and that there is no mixing of the sexes. But, love will out as the prohibition has caused a flourishing black market for red roses.

Kohail Update

The Saudi High Court has ordered a review of the murder conviction of Canadian Mohammud Kohail. This decision should buy more time for the young man and for the Canadian government to seek his release.

02 February 2009

Head Count

Saudi Arabia started off 2009 with 8 executions. There was one rapist and seven murderers.

Also, the news has gone strangely silent about young Canadian Mohammud Kohail and his brother.