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Dubai responds to media criticism

United Arab Emirates: Monday, April 27 - 2009 @ 15:48

Several recent reports about Dubai by the British media have stoked widespread controversy throughout the emirate and the UK.

The reports included a programme by the BBC called Slumdogs and Millionaires, which focuses on the living and working conditions of labourers in Dubai’s construction sector, and an article by Johann Hari of The Independent, The dark side of Dubai, in which he says the city was ‘built from nothing in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery’.

Hari’s article prompted a response in The Independent by one of the people he interviewed, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, and also led British Foreign Office spokesman John Wilkes to issue a statement describing the criticism waged by the British press as ‘over exaggerated’.

’Dubai is not the only place that is affected by the global recession. The whole world is suffering,’ Wilkes said.

In an online exchange with local and international news outlets, Sheikh Mohammed addressed the coverage that Dubai has received in the press, saying that he considers the work of the media ‘especially significant in telling the story of how Dubai and the UAE are coping successfully with the global financial crisis’.

’Media bombardment’

However, while noting that a ‘few’ balanced articles have been written on how Dubai is faring during the economic crisis, he said the UAE has otherwise faced a ‘media bombardment’ and that Dubai has been under ‘daily attack’ from some Western media outlets ‘as if they were in a race against time to harm the UAE’.

Sheikh Mohammed said the images of Dubai struggling with the global financial crisis as painted by some Western media ‘are illusions, not realities’.

He went on to say that ‘it is truly sad to find international publications that have usually boasted about factual and precise reporting issuing articles based on mere rumours and baseless speculations.’

Dubai’s ruler said the motives behind the negative press were a mystery to him, but he did make clear that he believes some members of the Western media disapprove of the success that Dubai has achieved.

‘It seems that seeing distinct images of successful Arabs and Arab countries disturbs some people. They would rather stick with the distorted images of Arab stereotypes in their minds,’ he said.

To counter these representations, the Dubai government will be as transparent as possible and otherwise let the city’s prosperity speak for itself, he maintained.

‘Our strategy in that regard is very consistent, as we strongly believe in the sanctity of truth. Our commitment to transparency is unequivocal and unquestioned. Our ultimate response to these reports can be seen in our relentless efforts and ongoing success. The life span of lies is always short,’ he said.

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Monday, April 27- 2009 @ 15:48 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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