Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Newspapers in Abu Dhabi

Because I live in an Arab country does not mean I do not have access to world news. Abu Dhabi certainly does not have a shortage of newspapers and magazines. The United Arab Emirates printed media includes several English and Arabic language daily newspapers, as well as a large number of weekly and monthly periodicals. These are easily purchased in all local bookshops and supermarkets, as well as hotel shops just like in any other city in the world. Most foreign newspapers and periodicals are also widely available in the United Arab Emirates.

Some of the English newspapers available are The National, Khaleej Times, Emirates Business, and Gulf News (to which we subscribe). The Al Khaleej and the Al Bayan are widely read Arabic newspapers.

I find reading the paper here to be a very interesting experience as I find it quite different from the USA. First, I believe the paper reports more "real" global news. Living outside the USA, one discovers just how filtered the news is in the US. One finds out that so much more is going on in the world on a global level when listening to news broadcasts or reading newspapers in foreign countries.

The Gulf News is a good newspaper printed on slick copy which means ink does not rub off on the hands and one can actually touch clothes and body parts without getting fingerprints everywhere. Of course, several pages are devoted to local news in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Then, they have news from the Gulf region. But what I find interesting is they have a section devoted to the Americas, one to Europe, one to India, one to the United Kingdom, one to the Phillippines, one to Asia, and one to Pakistan. I think the coverage is more than adequate. I do think they are a bit biased at times. They have a large two page editorial section. As in the US, the editorials lean heavily in one direction. They usually have a couple of editorials devoted to local issues going on in the city, and then of course, the rest are long political diatribes. I often chuckle when I read these editorials.

For instance, Tuesday's paper had a long editorial on how Gaddafi (Libya's president)should be treated with respect and how he was snubbed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He called the war in Iraq "the mother of all evils" and "a violation of the UN charter without any justification", and asked for an investigation (which the editorial advocated). Apparently he was noticeably snubbed by the White House and other UN delegates with people not showing up to hear his address to the Assembly while others walked out during it. Then, there was another one on how the British prime minister is on a downward spiral of political decay. And to make matters worse, NBC's Brian Williams had the audacity to ask Brown about his eyesight in a televised interview. Saving face is very important to the Arab culture so this did not sit well I guess.

Also, this past weekend President His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, attended a luncheon to celebrate the wedding of his daughter to the son of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa of Bahrain (whew-----they always refer to these Sheikhs with their full name and their official titles. Sometimes the whole paragraph consists of just the names alone!) They had all these photos in the paper showing the various dignitaries at the banquet----Shaikh Mohammad and the groom shaking hands and the Shaikh welcoming him into the family; the young groom chatting with other young Shaikhs who attended; and photos of the different royalty (the Sheikhs) who attended. I found it most interesting that there was not one photo of the bride, the mother of the bride, or any women at all. They were not even mentioned by name, only the reference to the daughter as a bride. When you are introduced to an Emirati, you are not suppose to ask about his wife or children or any of the women in his family. It is considered rude and a breach of protocol. It is customary for him to mention them only if he desires to do so. So you cannot chit chat and say things like "...and what does your wife do? ....or how many kids do you have?....... So I guess this rule is followed in the news as well. The royal women are not discussed in the paper. They would be covered up in abayas (the long black garment) and shaylas (the head covering) and veils anyway so we wouldn't be able to see them. Maybe that is why they do not put them in the paper----it wouldn't do any good because you wouldn't be able to see them!

As anywhere else in the world, they have a Sports section too!!!! They mostly discuss Futball (Soccer) and Cricket. The World Cricket games were played recently and Sri Lanka was in the finals. My maid was glued to the TV for a couple of days. They also cover American Pro Football, Baseball, Golf, and Tennis. As anywhere else in the world, Sports is big business. Local sportings interests include Arabian Horses, Camel Races, and Falcons. The Arabs love their Arabian stallions and have big horse shows and sales. They are often televised. They also have Camel Races nearby in the city. I can't wait to see that!!! By the way, they do not bet here. Gambling is not allowed. The Arabs also love to raise Falcons and have competitions. How they compete is a mystery to me. I passed by one of my neighbor's houses the other day and saw a beautiful Falcon tethered in the front yard. The City is excited about the new Formula One race coming up in November. They are building a special racetrack for it and everyone is crossing their fingers that it will be finished in time. It is a huge sporting event that is drawing a large celebrity type crowd. Of course, the average person cannot afford to attend. The tickets are outrageous.

The business section is like any other one. Talks of stock markets all over the world. Lately, this section has been riddled with articles about the bank's role in the global economic crisis. Apparently, credit card companies all over the world are doing the same things as they do in the US. Credit has been very loose here as well. The articles are full of the need to do proper risk assets and the banks all over the region are experiencing big losses. They are sayings the UAE is gearing up for a strong revival and that investors will be back in the game in this area very soon. Investor confidence is climbing here. The section is also full of bad news from the US on unemployment and the plight of social security.

So all-in-all I am satisfied that I am keeping up with the global news. I do feel a little bit out of touch with the US National news. Some of that is my own fault. I could watch Fox News and CNN and stay up with it. I just don't sit down and watch much television----unless it's Dancing With The Stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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