Monday, 17 May 2010

Oh the Nakba of it all...

May 15, 1948 represented the Nakba for the Palestinian people and a humiliation for the Arab governments of the day. Whatever the political view on the creation of Israel, that fateful date 62 years ago marked the dispossession and continued statelessness of the Palestinian people. Not too long ago it could be said that what tugged at the Arab heart was a hopeful return to Jerusalem and the end of an occupation of the Palestinians. It is true that there is a sense of fatigue when it comes to recounting yet again the despair facing a broken people, who themselves are internally fractious. I mean, you can almost sense the exasperation in governments in the region -- "The Palestinians again? Yeah, yeah, yalla, free Palestine." Sure every now and then a dignitary will raise the issue, like Turki al-Faisal. Yet, in many ways the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is a forgotten afterthought, to be raised sporadically when convenient, or forced like during the Gaza War.

So what did I do on the Nakba weekend in Dubai? I of course popped into the city's newest creation: the Armani Hotel. I felt like I belonged given that I have used Armani cologne for a number of years now. I was attending the birthday party of one of friends at Armani Prive, the new nightspot.

What the video doesn't capture is the Belorussian escort I happened to chat up and then chat down, nor a mix of West-East pseudo-cool who have too much money and not enough self-direction. That probably is a bit harsh, as everyone needs to have fun. Yet, I often wonder, what drives the individuals I meet at Armani or the Atlantis for that matter? If I asked them about the Nakba would they a) know what it is, and b) would they care beyond a passing thought? There are definitely some people sitting in AIPAC's headquarters relishing the thought of an emerging apathy towards the "Palestine issue" as it is called in these parts. You definitely cannot simplify the Arab world to what you see in Dubai, and you certainly cannot extrapolate the views of the heterodox & international crowd here to that of the Arab world.

And Dubai itself is not without charitable activities or organizing. A fundraising series for diabetes relief in Palestine (called the Masquer-aid) was quite successful a few months ago. However, I feel like "caring" -- truly and passionately -- is a dying phenomenon, as a self-involved materialism that is driven by narcissistic exploits starts to take over here, and perhaps in much of the Arab and Muslim world. Then again -- maybe I'm wrong. And for your pleasure, enjoy Dubai's version of the Bellagio Fountain:

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