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Stumbling on criticism
The sex-on-the-beach soap is over. But the saga continues for Dubai and its ailing image
October 16, 2008 12:23 by kippreport
Interestingly, the catalyst of all the negative press – the sex-on-the-beach incident and the possibility of a lengthy jail term for the accused – is not specific to Dubai. Even in the UK, where both Palmers and Acors come from, anyone caught having sex in public faces up to six months in jail. By public, the law means anywhere people can see you. That includes your back garden. It seems the story merely invited the world press in for a look, and some journalists didn’t like what they saw.
Nevertheless, the publicity isn’t appreciated by most: Gulf News published an opinion piece on October 10, 2008 entitled UAE-bashing by British press is unfair. The article bemoans the heavy criticism the UAE has endured of late, especially regarding the sex on the beach case, the plight of laborers and the demographic imbalance. The author then states: “when such articles of criticism appear, they come across as reminiscent of an ignorant bygone colonial era.”
Criticism of Dubai and the UAE, however, are part of the nation’s process of becoming an international player. With increased visibility comes more publicity, both good and bad. No nation, not even the UAE, is immune.
The attacks have become so frequent and biting that some feel the sentence Palmers and Acors have been given (three months in jail) and the fine they’ve been ordered to pay ($350) has been reduced to curb more negative publicity.
It is unsurprising, however, that critics have lambasted the foreign press for airing the UAE’s foul laundry. The nation has never been keen on publicly addressing issues that are deemed sensitive or damaging to the country’s image.
However, if the UAE is serious about its efforts to become ‘world-class’ and cosmopolitan, it needs to learn to take public beatings.
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