Friday, March 28, 2008


"Fitna is a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Dutch parliament. The movie offers a critical view of Islam and the Koran. The name comes from the Arabic word fitna which is used to describe "disagreement and division among people", or a "test of faith in times of trial"."

For those of you not familiar with the issue, Wilders has caused a huge international controversy with an apparent attempt at insulting the entire Islamic world with this movie that he just released on the web a few hours ago. Having watched it online, I honestly don't see what is the big issue.

Why don't we in this part of the world just ignore this person by not getting angry at such petty attempts to ridicule a religion? To insult someone, it is not the act itself that instigates it but the persons perception of that act, ie it is you who is getting insulted and not the person insulting you. Why don't we just view this as an attempt by a lone soldier trying to bring down the entire army of Islam? Is the Islamic world so weak in their beliefs and values that a 15 minute video could put a scratch on centuries of Islamic culture, heritage and civilization?

It really doesn’t matter whether you agree with Wilders views or not. As Evelyn Hall said "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

Monday, March 24, 2008

What has made Dubai into such a major Arab and international city ?

"What has made Dubai into such a major Arab and international city ?"

That is a question that I am asked quite frequently by people and I also often ask myself. It usually ignites a long heated debated that rarely comes up with a clear answer. Then again, such a question cannot be answered in a simple sentence. Or can it?

I still clearly remember how on family holidays in Europe most people had no idea where Dubai or the UAE was. We would usually resort to mentioning its more famous neighbouring countries when questioned on its geographical location (mind you, mentioning countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia doesn’t always give people in Europe a good first impression). This is referring to the mid 90s and not a bygone era! Having witnessed its transformation from a small town into a major metropolitan city I have come up with multiple, complimentary factors that have catapulted Dubai into the international limelight. However, I personally believe that two factors stand out from the rest.

The UAE has stayed out of the international tit-for-tat bickering that have consumed most of the Arab world’s resources. Their efforts are introverted and focused on economic expansion and development. They are not infatuated with petty international political rhetoric typical of most Arab governments. They mind their own business and are more worried about the things going on in their backyard rather than being preoccupied with what’s going on over the fence.

Even more crucial than this is its miniscule local population that have lessened the social issues that have overwhelmed all other Arab countries. After all, looking after two children is a lot easier than taking care of twenty ?