Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Recession of Fourth (Real) Estate

Read this article about Dubai. The latest trend is now Dubai-bashing. And they spend their Times on it.

Dubai, no doubt had made severe mistakes in their emirates building. They took everything for granted. They tried to build a castle on loose sand and we all know that such spineless and hollow castles would not last long.

They were betting on all sorts of trading without anything concrete on ground. But compared to other six emirates, Dubai had a humane face. The bustling streets, the marvellous fusion of near, far and wide nationalities, liberal laws safeguarding and respecting human and civil rights, keeping pace with the values of any other modern, democratic, secular country and unlike many of their own brethrens in Saudi and other parts of the region.

But the main flaw was always there as mentioned above. Building a structure without any concrete substructures or firm soil beneath them. It got involved more and more in the business of manipulation and bequeathed their power and vision to the fancies of elite real estate cronies. They were cunningly lured into becoming royal pawns for the developers, builders and their petty real estate agents. Art and ethics of making money by the ancient and conventional way of earning money, or in another words, sweat, was easily forsaked. Doublng money by way of gambling and speculation became the rule of the day. And towards that end, everything followed. The rulers easily forgot that they were playing with the destiny of their state and the trust of millions of it's citizens. But the developers, builders and their networks had nothing on stake, except their own accounts and profits.

And now everything has stumbled upon each other, those who were silent spectators till now have come up. To laugh, mock, and blame. And Times too does its share alongwith other foreign media.

But how does it do it? Or, in another word, how should the media focus and handle these issues? Not definitely the way, Times do.

Times reporting is nothing but a different variety of yellow journalism. Corporate giants like BBC, Guardian and New York Times and authors like Christopher Davidson too reported their pet subject of Dubai Crumbling in the same fasion. The whole international media pounced on their till-now-favourite emirate to paint a grim picture of its 'apocalypse', with nothing but stuff collected from the daily public talk. They were not practicing the right journalism. They were weaving sensational stories. In the case of this specific article of Times, whole article is abound with these generalizations. For eg. Times report that "The large foreign banks that had been financing Dubai's real estate boom have pulled out..". should'nt they have named the foreign banks which have pulled out? Again, "The city's notoriously brutal traffic jams have eased somewhat in recent weeks since the reported exodus of thousands of expatriates, who make up more than 85% of Dubai's populationity..". we, in dubai, doesnt feel that Sir. We know that things are bad, people lose their jobs, many families are returning, many are planning to, pay scale has come down. Yes, all these things are true. But do we need a media like you to repeat these stories which everyone here knows well and experience daily. Was'nt it your duty to come up with real facts and figures and avoid the hear-says?

And to cap all, that hint about the ruler's health. "....The sheik has been rumored to have suffered significant health problems from the strain brought on by the emirate's economic woes...". Wouldnt it have been more sensational to hint that the 'Sheik' had attempted suicide or have lost his mind even?

Rumours always abound everywhere. Especially when it comes about big and mighty. Sheikhs and Sheikhdoms too are not immune to that. But when a newspaper or magazine with the repute of Times and others comes up with such trash and that too to sensationalize things, then they are staining this profession with yellow.

And did any of these 'doom celebrators' have ever in the past cared to warn against these speculative trend of Dubai. They were busy writing about Atlantis and The Towering Dreams, and the the champagene-soaked nightclubs of Dubai and were all praising and cheering the vision of its ruler, not so long back. What were their economists and columnists doing when things were going from bad to worse? Like those Wall Street pundits who were sleeping when the nation was going to dogs.

Newspapers in UAE too do their big share in hiding the facts and painting a bright picture of the Emirates. Even in ordinary times, their journalism was nothing remarkable. They had never dared to speak the entire truth and had all along coated their profession with abstract and a vague language. And as for recession, they had spotted it everywhere except in their own tiny kingdom. They too distort the truth, turns a blind eye on sharp realities all around. Pretty good masters in soft talk and appeasement of authorities.

Regarding the new draft of UAE's media law, though the media in UAE has taken a divided stand, it had for the first time boldy raised the issue of freedom of expression in proper terms and had made it a public debate. The authorities, as usual have come up in defense of the new draft, but the media world have put forward their concern. But, when it comes to the real work, they are reluctant for any significant change and sets itself and within unlimited self-made barriers.

For their part, they had neither acted as a watchdog of this society, nor helped to focus its core issues. They never bothered to alert the authorities about the potential evils of this speculative economy in which they and others subsisted. When the fradulent realtors had all these years took the whole society for a free ride, they were celebrating the global festivals and Terry Fox Runs and what not. They even acted as the PROs of these real estate manipulators and their sponsors and presented their papers daily, enwrapped in glossy cover sheets of these master manipulators.

In the end, we have different shades of yellow journalism, in and out.

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