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
 
Time for a more muscular GCC diplomacy
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2015-05-24
Author : Talmiz Ahmad
Saudi attempts to counter Iran went awry when the US, in late 2013, decided to actively engage with Iran on the nuclear issue....
The sectarian divide threatens national unity
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-24
Author : Khaled Al Maeena
The murder of 21 innocent worshippers and the injuring of 102 others in a mosque on Friday at Al-Qudaih in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is an act of...
Pawns in a greater game
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-24
Author : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
A senior US official told the media how the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell in the hands of the self-ascribed Islamic State (IS), adding that the world has never witnessed...
No room for sectarianism
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-24
Author : Rasheed Abou-Alsamh
The horrific and bloody attack on the mosque in Al-Qadeeh in the Qatif province on Friday which left at least 21 people dead and 100 injured, when a suicide bomber...
The evolution of Daesh
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Trudy Rubin
On May 23, 2003, I attended the Baghdad news conference at which the US viceroy, Paul Bremer, announced he was dissolving the Iraqi army....
Campaign to promote sports for Saudi women gains momentum
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Samar Fatany
Today the country is buzzing with public debates and there is a sense of urgency about the need to address social and economic problems. Talk shows and social media debates...
Recruitment companies and exploitation
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Khalid Al-Bawardi
Three years ago, the Ministry of Labor approved a decision to set up recruitment companies to serve the private and public sectors. The idea was to regulate the market for...
University of Taif projects halted because workers have not been paid
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Saeed Al-Seraihi
Construction projects at the University of Taif have been experiencing problems that have slowed down their implementation. I am talking about all of the projects: the faculty members' housing, the...
Holes that swallow people in the Kingdom's cities
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Sharifa Al-Shamlan
What is happening these days in our country is unacceptable. Why has the number of people who have died as a result of falling into manholes increased, especially in Jeddah?...
The complex puzzle of Iraq
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Osman Mirghani
The self-ascribed Islamic State's takeover of Ramadi, the largest city and the administrative center of the Al-Anbar governorate in Iraq, is not the first incident that raises questions about the...
Economic costs of ME conflicts
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Adeel Malik & Bassem Awadallah
The Arab world and its neighbors are stuck in a violence trap. The fighting in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, together with the predations of groups like the Islamic State,...
Plotters will never succeed
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2015-05-23
Author : Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi
The terrorist attack on a mosque at Al-Qadeeh in Qatif is alien to Saudi culture and norms. The use of a detonation belt signals that Islamic State is behind the...
The Ultimate Selfie!
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-05-22
Author : Muna Al-Fuzai
A selfie-obsessed Romanian teen was recently electrocuted when she touched a live wire while trying to take the 'ultimate' selfie of herself on the roof of a train....
In Kuwait, we only hope – for the best
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2015-05-22
Author : Sahar Moussa
If I were to write a list about the disadvantages of Kuwait and start today, I will probably finish tomorrow. The list will keep on going. If I want to...
Relying on US for security a mistake
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2015-05-22
Author : Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor
At a passing glance, President Barack Obama's meetings with the leaders of the Arab Gulf States have borne fruit in terms of furthering mutual respect and as a building block...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
1 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Sun May 24, 2015| 05-شعبان-1436هـ
Bomber identified as Saleh Al-Qashami
'Preserving oil market share top priority for Gulf': Pundits
Militants in Palmyra's museum
UAE inspires regional growth
US confirms Iran troops are in Iraq
Kuwait Al-Ahli Bank acquires 98.5 pct of Piraeus Bank Egypt shares
Hadi not to attend Geneva dialogue
Gulf business leader says Mideast pays $ 1 trillion for gender gap
World condemns Qatif attack
Iran govt. permits 'unofficial' U.S. trade link
Iraqi forces retake parts of Ramadi
Azerbaijan seeks stronger trade ties with Saudi Arabia
Liftoff for UAE's space dream
Cairo meeting calls for work on creating joint Arab forces
Obama stays the course despite Islamic State's advance
French public now for military intervention in Syria - poll
    Newspaper Editorials
Riyadh must take moral high ground against sectarianism
Will Israel be kicked out of FIFA?
More>>  
    Opinions
Time for a more muscular GCC diplomacy
No room for sectarianism
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
The Arab-U.S. Strategic Partnership and the Changing Security Balance in the Gulf
More>>  
    Bank Reports
Saudi Arabia Banking Sector
GCC Equity Monitor - Global
More>>  
    GRC Analysis
Saudi Arabia and the ASEAN Periphery: Cambodia, Myanmar, and Brunei
NATO and the Future of Gulf Security.
Saudi-Vietnam Relations
    GRC Commentary
Price of not heeding Kingdom's advice
On Relations between Rulers and Citizens: The Need for a New Social/Political Contract in the GCC States
Key Issue Facing the Saudi Ruling House.
    GRC Book Review
Beyond Regionalism? Regional Cooperation, Regionalism and Regionalization in the Middle East
India, GCC and the Global Energy Regime: Exploring Interdependence and Outlook for Collaboration.
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Demography, Migration, and the Labour Market in Bahrain
Islamic Finance: A three-volumes series.
United Arab Emirates’ Legal Framework of Migration
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Go
      
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   55-- 55 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 55 - 55--en--sess-enreq-en-coming