A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

Crossing the Gulf

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 20, 2008

Yesterday I received this jpg of the latest issue of Time Magazine, from the Europe edition:

Argh. Its a striking cover – some bright graphic artist has used bullets to replicate the Dubai skyline. And the title of the “special report” is cute: “A Gulf Apart: the Divided World of the Middle East”.

But the contrast between Lebanon and the Gulf, like the article itself, is a bit shallow. And it seems to be justly irritating a number of Lebanese bloggers, including M. (Or maybe its just that we all received this jpg from the same source :).)

At any rate, Time has a number of good correspondents active in Lebanon – meaning that this “special report” should have more substance and less fluff. And at a minimum it should acknowledge that much of the Gulf’s success has been due to the hard labor of Lebanese expats!


7 Responses to “Crossing the Gulf”

  1. Leila A. said

    Even before 9/11 my young Lebanese cousins were having trouble getting visas to the US. Now they’re all in the Gulf, working in high tech or teaching, pharmacy or medicine. Two of the middle-aged cousins with American passports went there first, got established and started hiring relatives and friends. (The Lebanese way) They can fly home to Lebanon whenever they like; or grandma can come visit and stay for months when there’s a new baby.

    I’m here in the USA and I think they are better off in the Gulf – and their children won’t be as cut off from Arabic and their ancestral culture as we 2d generation kids in America are.

    None of this is news to you or your readers, I am sure. Americans have no clue.

  2. I knew this cover will create a buzz in the Lebanese blogsphere, I have also published it on my blog via M’s.
    By reading the last two lines, I can tell it irritated you as well.. 🙂

  3. Leila Abd said

    Next to one of those Dubai buildings, they should have included one of those cramped quarters that house the South Asian construction workers whose passports are confiscated until they pay their dues. I am living in the US, and Americans are woefully ignorant of the downside to places like Dubai — just as they are ignorant of some of the concrete improvements in places like Lebanon. But highlighting sharp contrasts makes for sharp soundbites, witty covers and magazine sales. I agree — too bad Time couldn’t invest some of its excellent brainpower in the region to generate something more nuanced.

    On another note, thanks for the continuing coverage of the changing graffitti, uniforms and flags; it says more about the ongoing (and weirdly changing) tensions than a lot of the long articles I’ve been reading in Western media.

  4. Leila 1000 said

    PS I just realized you have another reader who is Leila A (with a great blog too), so I’ll sign Leila 1000 from now on.

  5. I should just sign Leila Abu-Saba. I don’t need to be so anonymous.

    When I went to the Radius of Arab Writers conference in New York, 2005, I kept turning and whirling whenever somebody said “Leila!!!” They were always calling to some other Leila. I started introducing myself as Leila #17.

    Back in my village in 1995 for the first time since the war, I met three young girls (now ladies) named Leila Abu-Saba, daughters of my cousins. I told them I was delighted to have such intelligent, beautiful girls share my name, and I was going to start a club for Leila Abu-Saba, and they would all have to pay me a tax because I am the first. Their faces fell. A joke! I said. It’s just a joke!!!

  6. Dear Leilas, Welcome! You are lucky to have such a lovely name – and to have so many who share it with you!

    Leila #17, I agree that living in the Gulf allows Lebanese to keep closer connections to Lebanon, and that they may be treated more respectfully in the Gulf than in today’s US.

    I’m not sure that the visa process is any friendlier – Lebanese, like all non-GCC Arabs, have to jump through hoops to get GCC visas. So Lebanese in the Gulf can come home for a visit, but trying to get Grandma or an uncle over to Kuwait or Dubai for a week or two can be a bureaucratic nightmare.

    Leila 1000, you are totally right – there are some heartbreaking inequities in the Gulf, and they’re easy to gloss over for magazine covers and articles about the magical growth of the Gulf. And thank you for your nice comments about the graffiti! I enjoy tracking the micro-changes in the neighborhoods I know – I’m glad you do, too.

    Rami, it did irritate me! And I’m glad its getting so much “coverage” online. I think M, Blogging Beirut and I all got it from the same source, and in addition to your blog, I think I’ve seen it one other place as well. Guess it struck a chord – or a nerve! – with all of us!

  7. Leila 1000- Thank you for complimenting my blog. Ahlan wa sahlan, please visit any time…

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