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Opinion and Editorial

Dear global media, what's with this 'Dubai' obsession?

Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)
Filed on January 6, 2020 | Last updated on January 6, 2020 at 05.33 am
Dear global media, whats with this Dubai obsession?


If cities were ranked on their celeb appeal, Dubai would surely be among the toppers if not at the very top.

All publicity is good publicity, or one of its versions ('No publicity is bad publicity' or 'There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about') is a phrase often attributed to the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. It's a maxim that many if not all true-blue celebs live by. Can you imagine if Justin Bieber or Katy Perry were talked about in social circles only if/when they released an album or song? It'd surely be sudden death for the popularity of certain celebs, some of whom are in the news more for the wrong reasons than the right ones. Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and even Lady Gaga, are talked about negatively all the time, so it isn't something that they'd begrudge.

If cities were ranked on their celeb appeal, Dubai would surely be among the toppers if not at the very top. No surprises, therefore, when established international media behaves like paparazzi and goes trigger-happy just to squeeze in a reference of the emirate in their articles never mind if they have to stretch the frame of reference or even take it out of context. The SEO gain from a 'Dubai' mention in the headline is far too great for some to fuss over niceties like accuracy or meticulousness. Take a British tabloid which on Saturday ran a screaming headline titled 'World War 3: Is Dubai still safe? FCO issue travel warning'. Ermmm, World War 3? Coming from an institution that saw its first edition as a broadsheet in 1900, that's a bit of a shocker.

Then again, it shouldn't be. It's déjà vu. In the year 2008-2009, when the world was reeling under the subprime mortgage bubble, a.k.a. the global financial crisis, Dubai was dealing with its own growth pangs, with one notable firm defaulting on its debt.

The global crisis wiped off trillions of dollars in wealth while the Dubai firm restructured - and eventually paid off - debt worth $23.5 billion. A look at the British tabloids of the time, however, would suggest that Dubai was the epicentre of the crisis. Why? Because the mention of 'Dubai' helps sell the tabloids to hundreds of thousands of sun-starved tourists. Dubai, of course, didn't bother then and it certainly wouldn't now. Oscar Wilde wasn't wrong, after all, was he?

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