Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More lies from Johann Hari

Our very own celebrity blogger Alexander over at Fake Plastic Souks has an excellent post on Johann Hari's latest piece of utter rubbish about Dubai.

Par for the course with Mr Hari I'm afraid.

He has a short piece in the Huffington Post which I'm not going to bother to write about, I just urge you to read what Alexander has to say.

I will say one thing though. In the piece headlined My Post About Dubai Is Now Banned In The City Mr Hari says that ...Dubai authorities have decreed that the article must not be read.

At the time of his original article there were more than a few people defending him, saying that he'd spent ten days in Dubai carefully researching his story, that he is a reputable journalist, one who checked his facts, who wouldn't run anything that wasn't true.

I disagreed and I still do.

And here's an example of why I do.

He states as a fact that his article is banned by Dubai authorities. To check whether he's telling the truth click here.

A good honest journalist who checks his facts eh?

If you're interested in what I had to say about his original article, you can find it here. I did a couple of follow-up posts over the next week too.


Mazhar Mohad said...

The site is ok on Etisalat network. Could someone confirm on Du network?

alexander... said...

Mazhar, of course the site is OK on Du, too.

There was a partial block on Du, which was told pretty smartly by the RTA - the ONLY authority that has the power to block websites - to undo the block as soon as it realised.

AND Hari KNEW that at the time he posted his 'I've been banned' piece on The Huffington Post. His post links to a blog post from Jen Gerson, a journalist on The National, that makes it clear that the ban was not policy.

Seabee - 'Celebrity blogger'? You cheeky bugger! :)

Seabee said...

Seabee - 'Celebrity blogger'? You cheeky bugger!But it's true Alex, it's true :-)

Rootless said...

I'm glad you guys (Alex and Seabee) think so highly of each others' opinions. I find it odd, to say the least, that having spent so much time and energy observing the avoidable absurdities of life in the UAE (ID cards, road planning etc.), you both find Hari's pieces so objectionable. For sure he has sensationalised and selectively quoted evidence to support a devastating thesis about Dubai. I too initially bridled at his Independent article. This was not my Dubai! Then I watched the sanctimonious spluttering outrage of the local commentators, who seem to reserve the right to criticise Dubai all to themselves (present company very much included). None of you addressed any of the serious contentions he made, the dark heart of contradictions that sustains this place, and the lights slowly went on for me. As expats here we have to rationalise our presence and construct a reality that allows us to comfortably pursue our lives. We don't always see things as clearly as a dispassionate external observer - we NEED Dubai to be ok, acceptable, justifiable.
Denial works - but I'm in remission finally. It's clear to me now that Hari has got closer to the truth of this place than any number of colour pieces about etislat connections or snickets. And talk to people back home, wherever that may be, honestly and openly, not seeking reassurance about why you're here. Even with people who have never heard of Johann Hari or his opinions, he's winning this argument hands down...

Seabee said...

Rootless I'm not in denial (and I'm sure Alex isn't either).

What I find objectionable in Hari's pieces are the lies.

I have no problem with him or anyone else highlighting things which they think need changing here - we bloggers do that in many of our postings anyway.

Apart from the lies there's another problem - his valid criticisms lose credibility because they're included in articles which contain so much that's everything from nonsense to simply untrue.

Untrue statements from interviewees (for example, "even the trees are fake"), very questionable claims (for example, living in a 4X4 in a hotel car park), lies such as the authorities banning access to his original article - and many more in that article.

Anonymous said...

not many people have any issues when the life people lead here are lies. not many have any issues when the rules of the land are implemented selectively, for select people. not many people have any issues at all, because they live on the right side of the fence, and they make more money here than they can back home. who gives a damn about the suffering ones, who live on the wrong side of the fence, who have not a hope from anyone who actually lives in dubai, nor the paid PR brigade out to market dubai. the ones living the good life probably would not even know the dept of darkness others live in, in dubai. dark places bring our dark stories. lies often bring about some spin, to pull it down. all your truths well told on sad little blogs never did any justice to the suffering people. johann hari's spin did more than all of your prayers. and many are thankful to him for that. but then, you wouldn't want that over the 100% veracity of what he writes in the land of lies right?

Rootless said...

Seabee, thank you for responding to my lengthy comment. If I understand you correctly, the basis of your objection to Hari's articles is his errors, wilful and unintentional. You say: "his valid criticisms lose credibility because they're included in articles which contain so much that's everything from nonsense to simply untrue".

It is exactly that contention that I dispute. Hari's fundamental vision of Dubai rings true DESPITE all of those (initially) distracting inaccuracies. By nit-picking peripheral fripperies, the Dubai blogerati have only served to expose and validate his basic thesis. There may not be an actual official internet block on Hari's article but the fact that the reflex of a (presumably reasonably high-ranking) functionary at du was to implement such a block reveals more actual truth about Dubai than the specifics of the debating point about how official it was or wasn't.

It's not nice to comtemplate, but we middle-class expats are hand-maids to a pleasant (for some) but nasty (for most) fraud; an unfree, unfair, feudal tyranny masquerading as an open and just society. But there have been worse crimes in history I suppose...

Seabee said...

Rootless, I can't agree that pointing out inaccuracies and untruths in articles in major newspapers is nit-picking peripheral fripperies, particularly when there are so many of them.

As for the du block, Hari stated that 'Dubai authorities' blocked his article. In fact it's exactly the opposite, they reinstated it after an unauthorised person blocked it. We're not debating how official or not the block was, we're pointing out an untrue statement by a well-known commentator in a major newspaper.

On disputing the contention, well that's a natural difference of opinion. I think the mass of nonsense compromises the real stuff while you don't.

SAS said...

Johann Hari is a liar and a sensationalist who sells half truths for a living. If his article on Dubai was based on the unadulterated truth, it is unlikely it would have been so controversial.

But a person who states that the picture of Sheikh Mohammad is on every second building in Dubai, (false), described Dubai's architecture as being vomit coloured ( need I say more ?) and now makes up a make believe story about his nonsense being banned in Dubai (false, again) cannot be trusted with a commodity as precious as the truth.

To put it another way, if his article had been based around the truth, he would not have gotten a huge response. The fact that he amalgamated half truths with exxagerations and downright lies during the course of his crude diatribe is precisely why he ended up with more attention than he merited. That is the essence of sensationalism for you.

Anonymous said...

Johann Hari went straight from university into a job as a national newspaper columnist, unlike other columnists, who worked for years on local newspapers, and then as reporters on national ones. Therefore, he lacks credibility as a journalist.

('Wusta' is every bit as pervasive in the UK as it is in the Middle East!)

I am glad to see references to hard-working British people, because the Independent (or the Guardian) seems to think their own people are lazy spongers, - despite the fact that British people in Dubai, and elsewhere, go there to WORK, not to sponge off the taxpayer.

Of course you get bigoted British expatriates who treat their host country and its people with contempt, but you don't need to go to Dubai for that - just try the Spanish Costas.

The image of a woman homeless in a Range Rover did sound comical - but if she's banned from leaving the country, can't get a job, can't get a place to live, what else can she do? Just kick her out.