Targeting ToTok will not hurt the UAE's reputation

Targeting ToTok will not hurt the UAEs reputation

Come to think of it, ToTok is just like any other internet calling app.



by

Mustafa Al Zarooni

Published: Sat 28 Dec 2019, 8:15 PM

Last updated: Sat 28 Dec 2019, 10:16 PM

Technology has helped blur boundaries and ushered a new era of competition not just among companies but also nations. Yet, commercial competitiveness that once flourished under economic liberalism is now being compromised by governments through the use of protective measures. Perhaps, it all started with the economic crisis that exposed the fault lines in the economic and business models followed in the West. The media consequently was often used to hit other economies and keep the spotlight away from their own follies.

The Western media, which was once known for the high ideals, are now the new medium used by political powers for political and economic gains.

We can see this being followed in the United States where the Trump administration is using the power of Western media to strengthen his country's economy. His administration has unleashed an economic war on the East, whose economic might and technological prowess is helping shift the power centres from the West.

The US has used the power and reach of its news media to spread false messages globally, and sow doubts in the minds of the global citizens. It has been used to influence opinions and countries are targeted on issues of human rights and fear of espionage, when there is none. This is a strategy to counter competition from companies around the world. Take the technology space, for instance. American firms have long enjoyed dominance in software industry, as developers of modern technology, and built platforms that have become institutions on their own. However, emergence of Huawei, a Chinese company, was always viewed with suspicion. Its rise in the smartphone industry and as a provider of 5G network jolted the US and since then numerous efforts have been made to stall its rise. The US has placed Huawei among the list of suspicious companies, and President Trump has warned other countries against using Huawei's 5G network in their countries saying it could be a spying tool of the Chinese.

And now the US administration has targeted an Emirati company that has become a runaway success. ToTok, an internet calling app, attracted 50 million subscribers in a short span and has been downloaded on smartphones the world over. Seeing its popularity, the American media has been quick to pounce on it and call it a spy tool.

Come to think of it, ToTok is just like any other internet calling app. It has similar application and features compared with other such services, and it has privacy policy disclosures in place as per usual international standards.

Yet, the programme is targeted and with it the UAE, which is a land of tolerance and a beacon of modernity and development. It is a soft power that has been attracting talent from the world over, inspiring countries in the region, and giving competition to metropolises globally with urban infrastructure and social achievements.

Today the UAE has redefined trade regionally by building ports, new areas of transportation, aviation. It has led to the rise of industries, allowed companies to flourish, built free trade zones for media and technology companies, and was instrumental in the rise of companies such as Careem, Souq, and others, which have been sold for billions of dollars. Then there are the likes of noon.com and other media companies that are enjoying great business and popularity.

Countries have the right to support local talent, allow companies to grow by providing them with some privileges and allowing them to conduct their activities freely according to regulations.

Yet, the West doesn't see it this way. They have been good at squashing competition by striking the reputation of companies and demonizing the role of governments, and in ToTok's case, the UAE.

The UAE has been steadfast in its commitment to diversify its economic model. It has successfully placed itself on the global map as one of the top tourist attractions. It is on course as the new destination for health, education, and soon a host of other industries. The UAE would not be dependent on the only commodity that the West expects us to rely on, which is oil. With openness, thrust on innovation and adaptability to all markets from the east to the west, we are building cultural and economic relations with one and all.

We believe in a globalised world and liberal system of governance and growth.

Targeted media campaigns have seldom changed the trajectories of growth for nations. Despite all the movies, stories, and intimidation, Russia has emerged as a tourist competition, and China as a technology hub. It's a new era and the global economic system supports the one that dares to do things differently and connects with all. - malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com   


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