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
 
Separation of sexes at hospitals
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Abdulaziz Al-Samary
Social media activists have circulated a new government decision that prevents mingling of unrelated men and women in the health sector. The Health Ministry has sent a circular to hospitals,...
Toward enhancing Saudi image abroad
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author :
People diplomacy plays a significant role in exchanging cultures between different communities and nations and strengthening their friendship. Many advanced countries use it to promote themselves as well as their...
Why is Daesh targeting the Gulf states?
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Dr. Ibrahim Alothaimin
On Tuesday August 16, Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) targeted the Qatif police station in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia killing a police guard. This attack is a continuation of...
Our fixation with conspiracy theories
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
The horribly sad images of the Syrian boy pulled from the rubble of a building destroyed in an airstrike in Aleppo are still fresh in our minds. We should not...
Trump's scary foreign policy
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Fawaz A. Gerges
Donald Trump's recent claim that his opponent in the US presidential race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama founded Daesh is vicious nonsense. But it is...
Remembering the forgotten genocide
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Shahriar Kia
The audio clip of a private meeting between the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini's closest aide and designated heir at the time, with various regime officials back in 1988 confirmed...
Shifting sands of politics
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Osama Al Sharif
Turkey's priorities in Syria are changing following the failed coup attempt last month. Ankara is rebuilding regional alliances amid altering geopolitical realities, most notably along the Turkish-Syrian borders....
Weapons of mass deception
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-08-25
Author : Samir Atallah
The French writer André Gide used to say that nothing destroys an individual or a group like lying does. Fooling yourself and fooling others destroys your intellect....
Reducing expenditure and increasing revenues
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2016-08-23
Author : Lo'ai Batainah
All or most GCC governments strive to manage their balance of payments, budgets, foreign reserves and finance the deficient in their current accounts due to oil price dip and the...
How Dubai is furthering the region's green agenda
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2016-08-23
Author : Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer
Finding solutions to these problems is not always clear, particularly when improving energy security and addressing climate change may seem to be two conflicting goals....
A medal for God's sake
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-08-23
Author : Khalaf Al-Harbe
I do not know how the officials in charge of sports in the Kingdom, including Prince Abdullah Bin Masaad, head of the Presidency of Youth Welfare, and the other heads...
If only they did not do it in Syria
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-08-22
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
It is time for everyone to face the truth. After five years and a half since the war started in Syria, with Turkey pioneering the fall of the regime; Turkish...
Russia-Iran cooperation in Syria sends message to US
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2016-08-22
Author : Bradley Klapper
Tuesday's missions were unprecedented. Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to strike opposition targets in Syria....
Why they intervene in Syria
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2016-08-22
Author : Michael Jansen
China, Russia and Iran have boosted their participation in the alliance supporting the Syrian government in the ongoing war against mainly radical fundamentalist insurgents, particularly Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham,...
Are UAE companies doing enough for Emirati youth?
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2016-08-22
Author : Khalid Al Ameri
I was 15 years old, it was the summer before I started my junior year in high school, and my dad decided to sign me up for a summer work...
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 Aug 26, 2016| 22-ذو القعدة-1437هـ
Kerry to discuss Yemen, Syria with Gulf states
Our Shiite army is fighting in Iraq, Syria and Yemen: Iranian general
Terror attacks foiled in Qatif
Turkey military sends tanks into Syria
Turkey's Tekfen wins $2.1bn Qatar expressway project
UAE Leaders hailed for women's progress
UN hails Oman role in Yemen
UN Security Council receives report related to use of chemical weapons in Syria
Barzani says Kurds don't eye Nineveh: Iraq PM
Iran 'yet to decide on OPEC limits'
Intra-Yemeni talks in Kuwait not failure - UN Envoy
Kuwaiti journalists' visit to Baghdad 'important' - Iraq's parliament speaker
Bahrain hails support by Kuwait to kingdom
Prince Faisal urges tolerance and peaceful coexistence
Erdogan: Syria unlikely to 'reach democracy' under Al-Assad
Iraq forces advance in operation to liberate town from radicals
  Op-Ed
Dangerous move
Need to address Mosul displacement fears
Our fixation with conspiracy theories
Trump's scary foreign policy
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
Salalah: The Economic Development and Spatial Fragmentation of a Globalized Port City in Southern Oman
Domestic Ramifications of the JCPOA for Iran
GCC and Russia: A View from Moscow
    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  |   01-- 01 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 01 - 01--en--sess-enreq-en-coming