Silly Arabs!

February 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Images of Saudi hotel room and tent from Conde Nast Traveler.)

It is not a surprise that travel magazines are one of the great perpetuators of Orientalism in the world. Travel articles, most notably from Conde Nast Traveler, continue to evoke images of Arab shaykhs living in luxury; majestic deserts; nomadic bedouins; massive oil fields; camels; and sexually tempting women.

It is nearly impossible to read an article on the Gulf without the inclusion of the adjectives “oil-rich” or “luxurious.” Here is a breakdown of the most commonly used depictions of Arabs (mostly Gulf states) in the crappy Western travel media magazines. Keep in mind that this is just a small sampling.

Arabs are lazy and engage in frivolous and incomprehensible activities!

From a 2006 Conde Nast article: At the Al Shahaniya racetrack, a half-hour’s drive into the shimmering desert outside Qatar’s capital, Doha, sheikhs parked in SUVs rev their engines and fiddle with remote controls. At the starting gun’s pop, cars and camels take off in a cloud of sand along the six-kilometer course, giving a busload of British and American tourists a fleeting glimpse of Qatar’s latest high-tech attraction: robot camel jockeys. The tourists giggle at this clash of modern and ancient worlds, at gangly beasts carrying toddler-sized electronic riders clad in a hodgepodge of racing silks, T-shirts, and baseball caps.

Arab women are secret-sluts!

“Gulf ladies wear very sexy outfits under those black things,” my guide whispers.

Arab governments are not just autocratic, they’re also incompetent!

Here is a description of the Crown Prince of the UAE from a 2005 Conde Nast article: “It is difficult to say what sort of government he runs—tribal democracy? nomadic aristocracy? compassionate autocracy?—but he differs from other omnipotent monarchs in that he is not an empire builder, he is an island builder.”

Non-Gulf Arab states are poor and suck!

From a 2006 Conde Nast article entitled “Arabian Nights,” the author writes: “Compared with the oil-rich U.A.E. Xanadu, Syria feels like Communist-era Albania.”

So, you are either on the fast-track to modernity or still lagging behind your oil-guzzling brothers.

In the same article, Dubai is described as such: “The city offers tranquillity, stability, security, and worldliness (to say nothing of golf and shopping) in a region not celebrated for these delights. The phones work. Alcohol is sold. ” Even with Dubai’s technological “advancement” — it will never live up to Western standards of quality.

Lastly, Arabs are not so smart and can be tricked!

From a 2007 Conde Nast article on Saudi Arabia: “Well,” Khalid said, as we wove through the sand between mounds of desert grass. “My family are the original Wahhabis. And those,” he pointed into the distance at something that to my eyes varied not at all from the sand, “are their tents.”

“Fantastic!” I said, thinking that this was perhaps not the best time to tell him I was the grandson of two rabbis.

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