Stories of sex are big in the UAE
For a country supposedly protected from the sinful side of life, we sure like to read about it, thinks Samuel Potter.
January 25, 2011 3:11 by Samuel Potter
Not for the first time, the “Most read” section of the Gulf News is dominated by stories that are sexual in nature. Here are three of the five headlines at time of writing: “Lewd massage parlours warned,” “Worker jailed for molesting schoolgirl in Dubai,” and “Sex and Dubai’s International City.” And you know what? When they do drop off the most read, I’m betting they won’t be replaced by “3D model helps with city planning.”
Gulf News is not the only outlet where this trend can be seen, either. Though it is relatively sedate at time of writing, Emirates 24-7’s most popular stories are often of a sexual nature. The last couple of days, a popular story has been “Deportation for possessing indecent items.” Oh, and they reported on the story of the love triangle that found its way into prison (in today’s blog) under the headline: “The millionaire banker who bedded his way to jail.” The website is hardly ever without a rape, molestation, or abuse story, it seems to me.
Even the supposedly high minded National has in its top five stories (after “Casting the Hobbit” and “Cristiano Ronaldo is a real challenger to Lionel Messi’s throne”) “Breast-grabbing incident lands in court.”
There are, of course, perfectly legitimate reasons for featuring these stories. Many of these incidents are serious in nature, and news outlets should not shy away from reporting these crimes, perhaps all the more so because this is a relatively conservative country. Kipp is glad it lives in a country where a rape still makes the headlines – in many parts of the world it wouldn’t make the papers at all.
But it is the voyeuristic way in which papers choose to report such crimes that bothers Kipp. Did Gulf News have to say “Worker jailed for molesting schoolgirl in Dubai” in the headline? Did Emirates 24-7 have to title its story ““The millionaire banker who bedded his way to jail”? Did the National have to use the term “breast grabbing incident”?
You want to grab attention, fair enough – Kipp does it too (well, tries to). Just look at our headline for this piece; made you click, didn’t it? But there is something a little seedy in the way our media latches on to these stories, and there is something depressing about the fact the stories are always in the ‘most read’ lists. Perhaps it is a side effect of being in such a generally conservative country that we are drawn to these tawdry tales, in which case the papers can hardly be faulted. I just wish they didn’t appear to revel in each story so much.