Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Between Dubai and Berlusconi - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The nature of media is such that its figures must immerse themselves in the negative aspects of all events; this is meant to be part of the fundamentals of politics without the need for having to investigate hidden causes. The media loves excitement and it tends towards slander and looks for disasters. This is why three stories came together in the same week even though they had nothing to do with each other except that they were attractive to the press.

The most recent of these incidents was when a madman attacked the Italian Prime Minister [Silvio Berlusconi]; the second was the scandal surrounding golf star Tiger Woods after it was discovered that he had cheated on his wife; and the third event occurred prior to these two events when international markets were shaken by the statements from Dubai that it would not be paying its overdue debts on time.

The newspapers wrote at great length [about these events] because they all are “international events” and this was not out of hatred for Tiger or Berlusconi nor was it because the West rejoiced at Dubai’s misfortune. This elaboration was simply because media representatives regard these events as exciting issues and considered them of interest to their readers. This is why those who are scrutinized carefully by the media believe that they are being targeted. Even if this is the case, most of the media is always searching for [another] prey. Only the misfortunate falls into the media’s claws.

Therefore, those who disapproved of the negative manner in which the Western media dealt with the Dubai issue and exaggeratedly imagined that there was a [media] conspiracy targeting this bright city are in fact being selective. This same group previously quoted Western media in order to demonstrate the success and international distinction of Dubai. So why was this considered to be honest testimony in the past, whereas today it is considered to be false testimony?

Certainly one of the attributes of the modern media profession is to pay attention to what excites the readers and drives the market and therefore articles about the Tiger Woods scandal are much more popular than articles about Dubai simply due to the public interest. As for those working in the markets who are concerned about the consequences of the global financial crisis, Dubai remains an exciting star that attracts observation regardless of anything else. Dubai is a well known trademark that draws observers, whether this is due to the construction of skyscrapers or due to those unable to pay their debts being imprisoned. This media attention is the fate of stars, whether these are footballers, entertainment figures, politicians, or even cities or companies; this is not necessarily a plot by journalists conspiring with hostile parties.

Those who believe that there are motives behind media criticism do not wish to acknowledge the original problem that first aroused the interest of the media. Dubai has a problem that the media cannot ignore, and this is a problem that Dubai alone can deal with according to the reality of the situation, and has nothing to do with the media. Dubai is not the only city in the world that is suffering from the financial crisis, and it is not the only one to face media criticism. The coming days will prove that Dubai is a distinguished economic model passing through an international [financial] storm, and we believe that it will pass through this safely because it truly is a successful [financial] model.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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