Friday, March 10, 2006

"Waiter! There's a Hashemite in My Port!"

Love that post title!
That's why I stole it.

Nur al-Cubicle treats us to another delightful translation from Le Monde, a slide show in words of the Kingdom (Sheikdom? Emirate? whatever...) of Dubai by Marc Roche. If democracy can't fly in that part of the world, the next best thing must be an enlightened despot who loves to make money and promote lavish lifestyles among his wealthy peers. Go read this wonderfully descriptive piece. There may be an axe on the grindstone, but it isn't from the Washington toolshed.

The 10th in succession of the Bedouin Maktoum dynasty, traditional friends of the United States in the region, the new emir, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, hasn’t recovered after being labeled by some in Washington as a sort of “public enemy No. 1”. At 56 years of age, the Emir, who succeeded his deceased brother, Sheik Maktoum, on January 4, 2006, is the proponent of a tolerant and modernized Islam.

He cultivates a demeanor acquired at Britain’s Mons Officer Cadet School and sports Ray-Ban sunglasses MacArthur-style. An experienced equestrian who enjoys endurance races in the desert, the man has been the de facto head of the country since the death of his father, Rashid, in 1990. With a keen anthracite gaze, his dry lips seldom part to reveal a smile. When I met him at the Nad al-Sheba Racetrack, his princely handshake was glacial.

I ask you: What's not to love about a man like that? Strikes me as a Donald Trump in a dis-dasha. Could this be (dare I say it?) micromanagement?

Although the prince gladly wears the local jellaba, the dis dasha – his collaborators cultivate US managerial style. The sheikh listens to their advice. But this omnipotent monarch with overwhelming authority carefully monitors the smallest details and decides alone and quickly behind his desk, stacked high with architectural drawings. Distrustful and secretive, Mohammed often gives ambiguous directives. He does not care for those who succeed too obviously. His liegemen compete like horses at the track where the only the best are victorious, jokes an Emirate habituĂ©, alluding to the celebrated Godolphin Stables, housing 3,000 thoroughbreds owned by the ruling family.

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