The UAE: Paris of the East?

It seems from this short piece in the SMH/Guardian that the Emirates is remaking itself in the image of the “West”. But this attachment to western-centricism is at the cost of emphasising the rich historical culture of Arabia and its surrounds. The Gulf has also had a longer historical connection with both the east, India, Persia and China, and with the East African coastline, than with Western Europe. The effort shown by the rulers of the Emirates to replicate the “west” in Arabia is most unfortunate, not because the best of western culture is not impressive, but that it ignores the richness of the eastern and African culture achievements and also those of the Americas and the Pacific. Most of all it belies the claim made in the article by Sheikh Mohammed that the planned projects will help “interconencted global understanding” as a project of truly global projections would provide space for attractions that represent the cultural achievements from all around the world. I can’t help but see the project of westernising the Emirates as part of the reaction of some Islamic elites to the “clash of civilizations” discourse and the aggressive assault on non-western culture by neo-conservatives in the US and elsewhere. Looking forward to some debate regarding this, even if this is not an entry about Israel.

Noah Bassil

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3 Responses to The UAE: Paris of the East?

  1. mustafa ramadan says:

    Fri 19 Sep 2008

    What the Gulf countries need most is to build man and good productive citizens. They need to manufacture their own products and produce their own food. They should find solutions to unemployment by providing efficient education and training. Oil is a depletive resource and may be replaced by other sources of energy soon.

    Mustafa

  2. Gennaro says:

    Culture Clashes in Dubai between locals and growing expat population?

    On today’s SMH
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/news/beach-sex-trial-highlights-dubai-cultural-divide/2008/09/24/1222217310485.html

    Not everybody agrees on living in Paris apparently.
    Enjoy

    Gennaro

  3. Rosalyn says:

    On a short visit to Dubai I couldn’t help but feel it was a ‘virtual’ city. It was in so many ways too “postmodern” that I couldn’t gauge a sense of its deeper history i.e. one that extended back before the more recent hyper-construction that has taken place there. Maybe I just need a longer trip.

    Noah thank you for the non-Isreal related entry but alas it has spurred very little debate. Nonetheless I think you should aim to marry Dubai. Gennaro too!

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