Wednesday, March 31, 2010

People power stops Barasti gig

Talking, as I was in my earlier post, about heads rolling, that should be happening at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi.

We have a three day official mourning period for Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, killed in a glider accident in Morocco.

Non-Arabic radio stations are playing classical music and Arabic stations are broadcasting readings from the Quran in place of regular programmes. Venues have been asked to ease off with their entertainment, generally meaning no alcohol and no loud music.

But giving at least one finger, and probably two, Barasti Bar at Le Meridien sent an early morning text message to its regular customers about the gig featuring rapper Vanilla Ice:

"NORMAL OPERATION. WE ARE NOT DRY! NICE, NICE BABY! 5PM-3AM C U ON THE SAND"

If you want to provoke a response, a backlash against expats' disrespectful behaviour, I can't think of a better way to do it.

But it misfired because, in spite of the lurid stories in the UK tabloids, in reality only a tiny minority of expats behave that way.

This afternoon Arabian Business is reporting:

"Barasti bar scraps concert after Twitter outrage

...social networking site Twitter was inundated with comments criticising the remarks for being insensitive, given Tuesday’s announcement of the tragic death of Sheikh Ahmed...

...When approached by Arabian Business over the
(community) outrage, the hotel released a statement saying the concert had been shelved."

I have no doubt that most expats, all but a very few, will applaud the decision to cancel - and be appalled at the original one.

The vast majority of us, as the campaign demonstratess, are not the badly behaved, disrespectful drunks depicted by people like Johann Hari. (BTW, I responded to his article here.)

Whoever was responsible for deciding the concert would go ahead and for sending out the original text needs to be fired. And to try to salvage their reputation, the hotel needs to tell us that's what's happened.


The Arabian Business story is here.

11 comments:

Keefieboy said...

I disagree, Seabee. In all my time in the UAE, life was constantly fecked up by extended mourning periods for deceased sheikhs. The Barasti SMS did come across as disrespectful, but I don't think they were wrong to decide to go ahead: these things cost a fortune to organise. I posted a lengthy comment on the UAE Community Blog about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not living in UAE anymore but when you write ”If you want to provoke a response, a backlash against expats' disrespectful behaviour, I can't think of a better way to do it.” I totally agree.
After all Sheikh Ahmed was really a good man that's why everyone in His country and abroad has to observe the mournings.

Keith said...

Lets face it, the UK papers are a crock of shit. People like Johann Hari and most of the Fleet Street journalists just write rubbish and make it up as they go along to stir up trouble.

If you believe the Sun, the Mirror and News of the World then even Britain is a festering den of iniquity.

I ceased to buy the so-called "newspapers" a long time ago. They seem to be aimed at people with an IQ of -2 these days.

I know that Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was a good man, and I was sorry to hear of his death.

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps being really cynical they new what they were doing ?

1- Concert not selling well.
2- Send out tasteless SMS.
3- Get people talking about it and the Barista, any publicity is good publicity.
4- Cancel concert due to respect and due to "public outcry".
5- Claim force majeure and not pay the DJ.

All in all = Win Win

Cheers,
Anonymouse.

Mishaal Al Gergawi said...

@Keefieboy,

Yes you did and it was insensitive but like you said: "I'll speak out as a real shit here, I don't care, I don't live in the UAE any more." Here' what I think of that: Good riddance.

I love the Dubai for all its nationalities and wouldn't want to change anything about its multicultural mix. I have close friends who come from from all over world but respect the UAE's culture.

PS if you've left and don't care anymore why do you still write lengthy comments on the UAE?

samuraisam said...

"Whoever was responsible for deciding the concert would go ahead"

Government of Dubai. DTCM.

Just take a step back and look at some of the people involved in this story for a good lol.

Seabee said...

Keefie, I have to disagree. Mourning periods are declared, they're disruptive but that's the culture. If you live here you should accept it, as you should the culture of any country you live in.

Sam, my comment stands. The individuals responsible, whoever they are, should be held accountable.

Keith, you'd put the IQ as high as that would you?

Anonymous said...

I was watching the whole thing explode on Twitter, and I have to say, pretty much all the posturing outraged responses came from Emiratis, not Westerners.

I dare say most people fail to give two craps about some sheikh whom nobody, including a large amount of Emiratis, had previously been aware of.

In fact I find this fake, "boo hoo hoo three days of national mourning for a rich guy who died whilst pursuing his playboy lifestyle" nonsense far more offensive than holding a music concert.

The guy's dead. I dare say a lot of other people died that day as well, but I don't see a rush to mourn and pray for the other people who weren't accidentally born into a position of power accompanied by huge amounts of unearned money.

But yes, that's Dubai for you - where incandescent jealousy harboured against Westerners having fun, masquerading as pious Islam, is all the rage amongst po-faced Emiratis.

Seabee said...

Anon@2.21, wouldn't you expect it to be mainly the local population expressing outrage - just as it is in the west when foreigners don't conform to their society's standards?

...I dare say a lot of other people died that day as well, but I don't see a rush to mourn and pray for the other people...
Again exactly the same in the rest of the world. A member of a royal family, a head of state, a key politician...I won't even mention that much of the world stopped for Michael Jackson. A lot of other people died those days too.

Dubai Photo Story said...

Great Post!!. I certainly agree with every bit in the post.

Anonymous said...

I heard a radio ad for the concert today, saying it is going ahead tonight. On or off? I still won't be going anywhere near there