(Image: Joi Ito). Blogger, photographer, tech investor, WoW guild overlord, Creative Commons CEO, and periodic Boing Boing Video guest star Joi Ito recently became a part-time resident of Dubai. I've followed his explorations of that city-state with much interest, and have been wondering what he thinks about the current flood of negative news coverage of Dubai amid the econopocalypse. Last week, for instance, I blogged this piece by Johann Hari in the UK Independent which opens with a vignette about a European expat living in her car, and proceeds to paint a really dark picture of what life is like there now. Joi has written a blog post which isn't solely a response to that piece, but more a reaction what seems to be a broader backlash in the press -- a backlash Joi feels is not fair or reality-based. A snip from his post:
Dubai bashing and 'what-aboutery' (Joi Ito)
I'm still new to the region so I can't speak definitively as a native, but I do know that the picture that is sketched is pretty biased and I think could be rightly called "bashing". As far as I can tell there is a crunch going on, just like everywhere else, and the government and businesses are trying to figure out what to keep and what to shut down. There are a lot of solid businesses and a lot of solid business people in Dubai and like anywhere else, consolidation and downsizing is taking its toll.
Having said that, the parking lots are not full of homeless foreigners and dumped cars. The mood is the same, if not maybe slightly more upbeat than the US or Japan these days. Instead of taking an hour and a half to get across town, it takes half an hour, instead of 3 days in advance reservations for the lounge/bar at The Address, it's 2 days and you can usually get a table at the nice restaurants with less than a hour wait now... usually. The real estate and development part of Dubai seems to be getting hit the hardest, but it looks the shipping and "the hub of the Middle East" parts of Dubai seem to be doing OK.
I don't want to appear like I'm defending human rights offenders. As a board member of Global Voices, WITNESS and a supporter of a number of Human Rights organizations, I spend a TON of time on human rights issues. We NEED to talk about human rights. However, human rights issues are resolved by understanding how and what kind of pressure to put on who in order to cause the change. While broad understanding of human rights is important, I don't find that sprinkling them on articles as part of a negative press pile-on is really, comparatively speaking, that productive.
You may also want to read this "Dubai Bashing" post on Desert Blogger.
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