Home Page - Gulf in the Media
HomePoliticsEconomy                               Set Gulfinthemedia.com as home page
Opinions
"Postings of opinions published in the Gulf and international newspapers
 Print  Send This Page
Save Listen to this Article
That thorny rose in the desert   

Arab News - 29 April, 2012
Author: Fawaz Turki

Rejoice, all ye! As is well-known by now, the EU countries have banned Bashar Assad’s wife, Asma, a notorious shopaholic, from buying luxury goods in Europe. No more expensive Dior watches, Armani shoes, Guchi bags, Cartier rings and Prada dresses for the Syrian first lady.

True, a catastrophe for the poor dear — according to leaked e-mails recently, she reportedly shopped till she dropped even while the bloodbath in Homs was under way, ordering jewelry, chandeliers and designer clothing online from boutiques in Paris and London — though hardly a threat to her husband’s vicious dictatorship. But hey, as the songwriter’s lyrics would have it, little things mean a lot. Well, kinda.

Now enter Vogue.

Large circulation magazines in the US have always had a penchant for puffing up first ladies from our part of the world who “look” European (as opposed to dowdy-Semitic and brown-skinned), who project European chic and who know how attire themselves in European high couture. Anwar Sadat’s wife Jihan, Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha and now Bashar Assad’s wife Asma come to mind.

Consider the case then of how one such publication, Vogue, has recently not just gone overboard fawning over the Syrian first lady, but how its editors have made utter fools of themselves in the bargain. Now before you dismiss Vogue as a lowbrow magazine with less than exacting intellectual standards, you would do well to keep in mind that it is the world’s most influential fashion publication, issued monthly in 19 national editions and read roughly by 650,000 people who see it as the ultimate arbiter of political discourse gleaned through the prism of fashion. Its editorial articles and profiles are perused avidly by the country’s powerful industry elite. Just as, say, the New York Times could make or break a producer’s Broadway show, so could Vogue make or break a designer’s budding career.

Vogue is now the laughing stock of media watchdogs — those analysts on the lookout for transgressions by fellow journalists — over its infantile, over the top, tin-eared profile of Asma Assad as a true democrat who loves her people, well, to death. Dubbed “The Rose in the Desert,” the 3,200-word article, written by Joan Juliet Buck, a staff contributor, talks of Asma’s “energetic grace” and “analytic mind.” It describes the Assads as “wildly democratic,” a progressive couple who embrace all things American and passionately care for the welfare of their people.

Buck’s profile, which went to press as the Assad regime began its despotic crackdown on the opposition, proffers the revelation that “Mrs. Assad’s central mission is to change the mindset of six million Syrians under eighteen and encourage them to engage in what she calls ‘active citizenship’.” Nary a word in the entire piece about the Assad family’s history of repression over the last 42 years, and how Asma has emerged, through her personal excesses and cavalier pretenses, as the Imelda Marcos, perhaps even the Marie Antoinette, of the Arab Spring.

All of which of course has drawn widespread ridicule from watchdogs watching over transgressive blunders in their craft and from Washington’s foreign policy community. The end result? Vogue has done something virtually unheard of for a mainstream media organization to do — it scrubbed the article from its website, an act tantamount to acknowledgment by a publication that it has committed a colossal journalistic booboo. (The article, which has vanished from the Internet, is now available on the subscribers-only Nexus database and on PresidentAssad.net, a fan site of the Syrian government.)

There is no need to dredge up here the equally fawning profile of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, designer-attired Suha Arafat that appeared in the New Yorker in May, 1994, where the Palestinian first lady was described as a feminist, a refined, cultured young woman ardently dedicated to the interests of the Palestinian people. Never mind that Suha Arafat had chosen to give birth to her baby in Paris, not Gaza, where her husband was based at the time, because, as she was quoted saying, “there are too many germs” in the Strip. And never mind that the 4,000-word piece appeared in the New Yorker, the bastion of New York intellectual sophistication and style, the outpost of literary hip and political savvy.

So be dismissive, as this column is, of the puerile grasp that both the mainstream and elite media in the US has on the complex issues bedeviling Arab culture, politics and society. But be kind in your dismissal, for even professional journalists in the US have the tendency, if only subconsciously, to extrapolate from their own cultural experience. When you deal with the first lady in Damascus, Cairo or Ramallah, you accord her the same gifts of pomp and mystification, the same clichés and saccharine pathos, you attribute to the first lady in Washington.

And yet. Yet, the moment of drastic truth will one day arrive for Syria, as the country’s remaining cash reserves quickly dwindle, followed by a steady hollowing out of the economy in the face of sanctions and trade embargoes. A financial noose is tightening around the government’s neck. According to US intelligence officials and outside experts, quoted in the Washington Post recently, “Assad’s reserves and sizable black market income are probably sufficient to keep the regime’s elite in power for several months — perhaps longer.”

Then what? The Syrian people will still be around (in street lingo, we ain’t going nowhere), but will the 42-year-long reign of the Assad family? What will be their fate? And how will the 35-year-old Asma Assad, Syria’s Marie Antoinette, hack it without designer clothing and other Western baubles? Will she, when that drastic moment of truth arrives, as it surely must, be taken to task by her people?

Marie Antoinette was 37 on Oct. 16, 1793, when she was taken from her cell in the Conciergerie, the 14th century fortress on the Ile de la Cite in Paris, and paraded in an open oxcart on her way to the guillotine in the Place de la Revolution. Her beheading was preceded by a drum-roll.

In our culture, it is widely believed that for every oppressor, a day will come.



disinherited@yahoo.com
 
Dear Zarif, you can't liberate Al-Quds with pistachios and caviar
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-07-29
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Mohammad Jawad Zarif was not funny in his lectures about the chastity of revolution and his attempt to cover up the scandals which the government of his country has been...
Brexit heralds a new era in UK-GCC relations?
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2016-07-29
Author : Sean Evers
You're landing at New York's LaGuardia Airport on the "expressway" approach-it's called that because you come in low enough to buzz the Grand Central Parkway and Mets' Citi Field before...
Meeting the challenges of population growth
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-07-29
Author : Hameed Al-Anazi
The Kingdom's population has increased to over 20 million. With expats, it has reached 31 million. According to the United Nations, it is expected that the Saudi population will reach...
Our airports should be run by international directors
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-07-29
Author : Muhammad Al-Saad
The problems associated with the services provided by Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) have never been solved. We have seen the same problems in local and international airports over the past...
Why do our universities prefer to hire non-Saudis?
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-07-29
Author : Khalid Al-Wabel
Six Saudi universities rejected the job applications of 200 Saudis who hold PhD degrees in different majors while the same universities announced 851 job openings for non-Saudis. This news appeared...
How can there be guardianship over women in a modern Saudi Arabia?
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-07-28
Author : Faisal J. Abbas
So much has happened over the past two weeks: a terrorist attack in France on Bastille Day, a failed Turkish coup, Donald Trump officially became the Republican Party nominee and...
Organizing polygamy
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-07-28
Author : Samar Al-Mogren
I was talking jokingly to a Moroccan woman working in Riyadh. "If you don't return to Morocco soon, your husband will marry another woman," I said....
Time to wage a media war
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-07-28
Author : Tariq Alhomayed
The least that can be said about the Iranian authorities destroying 100,000 satellite dishes on the grounds that they breach regulations and threaten moral, cultural and social values is that...
Peace in Syria? It takes more than regime ceasefires
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2016-07-27
Author :
This week the Syrian regime announced that it was prepared to enter peace talks 'without conditions'. Almost immediately members of the opposition rejected the claim. It’s not entirely surprising -...
The disgruntled over Gulf stability
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2016-07-27
Author : Turki Al-Dakheel
The current debate on social networking sites expresses a number of dangerous phenomena. The most prominent is linked to the motherland and citizenship, which are honorable concepts. Citizenship is a...
Does university matters while offering employment?
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2016-07-27
Author : Haider Al Lawati
The recent poll conducted by the Graduates Survey Department of the Ministry of Higher Education with the chief executives and employers in public and private sectors has resulted in findings...
Art appreciation is a foundation of any culture
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-07-27
Author : Tariq A. Al-Maeena
The creation of a commission for entertainment and culture as part of Saudi Vision 2030 is a great boon for art and culture lovers in the Kingdom. When one...
Undermining Syrian opposition
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-07-27
Author : Osama Al Sharif
These are bad times for the political arm of the Syrian opposition. There endemic divisions notwithstanding, now they fear that a US-Russian understanding may derail the one thing that keeps...
Turkey's stability is a must
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-07-27
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
When Egyptians took to the streets in July 2013 protesting the rule of then President Muhammad Mursi, observers were filled with fear even more than when people had filled Tahrir...
Qaboos Sultan of 'challenges'
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-07-26
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Forty six years ago, he disembarked from an old model civilian airplane at a humble airport in Muscat - a young man with a skinny body and thick beard....
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
1 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Fri Jul 29, 2016| 23-شوال-1437هـ
Blow to peace effort - Houthis ink deal with Saleh to run Yemen
KSA, Kuwait protest Iran foray into Gulf waters
Syria's Nusra Front says it is breaking ties with al Qaeda to avert attacks
Qatar, Argentina sign MoUs
Ensure workers do not migrate illegally: Oman advises India
SAGIA grants Pfizer 100% ownership of KSA business
Syria and Russia's cluster bomb use relentless: HRW
Yemen's 'political council' is rebels' desperate bid against legitimacy: Gargash
Flagging non-oil business dampens outlook for Gulf
Iranians 'attacked 12 embassies in 25 years'
IS 'don't represent Islam' - White House
Inter-Yemeni consultations resume in Kuwait
Qatar Airways said to lift IAG stake to 20%
Solid Bahraini-Jordanian ties haileld
200 women allowed by courts to travel alone
  Op-Ed
Solar so good: it's the beginning of a longer journey
In terror crosshairs
Dear Zarif, you can't liberate Al-Quds with pistachios and caviar
Brexit heralds a new era in UK-GCC relations?
More>>  
    Reports
GCC Markets Performance - June 2016
Brexit in the GCC Context…
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    GRC Analysis
The GCC and the EU's New Global Strategy
For the GCC States, a different Europe to deal with
GCC-Russia Relations: Lot of Rhetoric but Little Substance
    GRC Commentary
Earth Day 2016: The Promised Day
An Evolving Saudi-US Relationship
Water and Jobs: Hitting Two Birds with One Stone!
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Renewable Energy Policies in the GCC: Challenges and Prospects
Foreign Investments in the GCC and Investments of GCC Countries Abroad
Gulf-European Relations in 2015
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Go
A Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies
      
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   50-- 50 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 50 - 50--en--sess-enreq-en-coming