A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

guilty pleasures: plagiarism hunting in the Syria Times

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 4, 2006

The Syria Times (syriatimes.tishreen.info) is the English language counterpart to Tishreen, Syria’s state-approved daily newspaper.

Its reporters are admittedly underpaid and undersupervised, with little offered in the way of professional development or on-the-job training.

If the Syria Times were to institute a training program, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure might be the top priorities. Of perhaps less urgent concern might be the Syria Times’ staff’s blithe disregard of professional ethics – particularly in its Book Review section.

The Syria Times’ book reviews are a treasure trove of opportunities for the plagiarism hunter. Almost no issue is published without at least one full-text searchable instance.

The latest example comes from a multi-book review published in the December 4, 2006 issue and written by Thana Haidar. Here is the full review:

Syria Times
culture
4-12-2006
Thana Haidar
The Leaves of Deads is the title of a novel recently published by Syrian woman writer Ihsan Sharbati who deals with a number of social and human themes.

“The Fall of the Arabs” is the title of a book written by al-Safi Sa`ed who explains and analyses the history of Arabs starting from the great Arab revolution in 1916 until the fall of Baghdad in 2003. ‏It is a long century that included several Arab turning points and ordeals. The researcher views that the great turning point in the Arab life started after Holaco`s invasion and then the rule of the Ottomans. Before that date, the Arabs constituted the basic foundation in Islamic civilization. With the establishment of Ottoman caliphate, Islam moved outside the Arab orbit. Most historians consider the fall of Baghdad in 1258 A.D as the beginning of separation between Islam and the Arabs. That catastrophic event brought two dangers; the Ottoman danger from the East and danger of Europeans from the West. The two parties were ambitious to dominate trade routes and to control the Arab region. The researcher emphasized that the fall of Granada kingdom in Andalusia in 1492 A.D is another turning point in the history of the Arabs. The book reviews European accords and agreements which divided the Arab Homeland after the defeat of Ottoman empire in the World War I. The twentieth century saw several Arab defeats such as the catastrophe of 1948, the June`s war 1967, and the events of 1970 the year which was called the black year because of the September massacre in Amman, then the collapse of Palestinian resistance and the death of Arab leader Jamal Abd al-Naser. The researcher explains in detail the emergence and structure of power in the Arab world. He reviews the Saudi Arabia kingdom until the fall of Baghdad. The last section presents detailed information on the Arab political systems, the important intellectual and political trends in the Arab countries. The researcher believes that Islam enriches democracy, so national regimes can reunite Islam and Arabs through secular and civil system which is based on human heritage in democracy. The researcher emphasizes that secularism is the best way to promote human freedom. ‏

The Middle East in the New Millennium is a book by By Gil Feiler. This book is an in-depth report of investment opportunity in the Middle East as it stands today. For each of sixteen countries, the author provides deep analysis of the current economic, political, and business issues, with detailed explanation of legislations in such vital areas such as currency and banking, intellectual property rights, investment incentives, trade regulation, business form and structures, taxation, and the laws applicable to labor and environmental issues, as well as a description of relevant judicial procedures. The Middle East in the New Millennium represents the clearest indication we have yet of the prospects for crystallization of this region and the likely pace and aspect of economic liberalization.‏

(http://syriatimes.tishreen.info/_arts.asp?FileName=47927220820061204112012)

The first author, “Syrian woman writer” Ihsan Sharbati, has written a novel of so little reviewer interest that it merits only a one line description.

The second, al-Safi Sa`ed, has written a work that obviously engaged the reviewer, as no sentence in this extended paragraph finds a match on google.

The third, Gil Feiler, is not so lucky. My aunt, IntlXpatr (www.intlxpatr.wordpress.com), often reviews books on her website, and mentions their current prices on Amazon.com (with the full-closure acknowledgment that she is not only a frequent patron but also a shareholder in the company). Thanks to the difficulties of obtaining a US credit card (for non-Americans) and the intransigence of American sanctions (which disallow purchases made from computers whose internet connection identifies the user’s location as Syria), few Syrians can take advantage of her recommendations.

However, the Syria Times’ book reviewers have certainly taken to heart her praise of Amazon as a source of all good things – including book reviews.

Haider’s review of Feiler’s book is taken directly from the “book description” found under “editorial reviews” on its Amazon page:

Although foreign investment in the Middle East is on the rise, and many of the region’s countries are adjusting their economies to the free market policies promoted by international economic development and trade organizations, many business investors are still hesitant to contend with what they perceive as political risk, as well as with differences in language, culture, and business practices. What is needed is a thorough guide to the evolving business law regimes in the region — a guide that would reveal not only the many attractive areas for investment that are not adequately known beyond the region, but also the growing potential for regional integration and cooperation; in a word, a book that will dispel the uncertainties and misgivings that so often undermine the healthy development of sound business relationships. This book is an in-depth portrait of investment opportunity in the Middle East as it stands today. For each of sixteen countries, the author provides in-depth analysis of current economic, political, and business issues, with detailed attention to legislation in such vital areas as currency and banking, intellectual property rights, investment incentives, trade regulation, business form and structures, taxation, and the laws applicable to labor and environmental issues, as well as a description of relevant judicial procedures. The result is a wealth of detailed information, unavailable in any other single source, that gives the interested investor or counsel a clearly defined perspective on business trends, new developments, and economic growth sectors in the region. The Middle East in the New Millennium: Economic Development & Business Law represents the clearest indication we have yet of the prospects for crystallization of this rich and diverse region and the likely pace and aspect of economic liberalization. It will be of enormous value to forward-looking investors, business people, and international business lawyers.

(http://www.amazon.com/Middle-East-New-Millennium-Development/dp/9041188444)

Amazon describes itself as ‘the Earth’s most customer-centric company’. What a pity that some of its most satisfied customers are those ‘shopping’ for the only printed material on the website that is not available for sale.

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