Friday, 23 March 2007

Blind item

Which just-departed magazine editor, who is moving ino PR for a luxury goods firm, thanked her former boss to the point of spine-chilling embarrassment to her colleagues, finishing up with "I love Ian so much". Whoever knew life at Al Wahibi Building in Garhoud was so touchy feely?

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Poor Campaigners

Life is not so good for Campaign staffers these days. There is no sign of the licence, so they are producing stories for a continually updated edition, just in case they get the go-ahead to actually print something. The website is in a state of disarray (as in, no work has been done on creating one).

The editorial team was last spotted playing cards at their desk, with the Campaign desktop flag fluttering limply in the airconditioned breeze.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Outdoor Advertising and the Tolls

I have been thinking about this for awhile and thought I would throw it out there. How do the tolls affect the outdoor advertising on Sheikh Zayed Road? All billboards are fully booked for the next 3 years, so the media buying agencies are probably thrilled. However, visibility will be very different -- or will it? What will it do to the other 'alternative' road?

Friday, 16 March 2007

The art of deception

I had considered this off-topic, but decided to post after receiving a handful of emails on the subject. Most of us are guilty of criticising Dubai at every opportunity, but many members of the media community have come out in protest over The Observer's report on the Gulf Art Fair, branding it ill-researched, factually incorrect, and verging on racist.

Among the cariactures and cliches was the description of UAE nationals as resembling "a laundry load of linen drying in a stiff breeze". Factual inaccuracies include: the "Arabic" American flag painting was actually in Farsi, and Dr Omar did not ask the value of the "Nation of Islam" piece, just pointed to it as it said "Allah" in Arabic. Oh, and Dubai has plenty of bookshops for the record. Letters can be submitted to

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Three cheers for Secret Dubai

A quick note of congratulations to Secret Dubai from everyone here at DMO headquarters. The blog has won the Africa & Middle East category of the 2007 Bloggie awards. Secret Dubai's blog has been forging its way through the mediocrity with its satire, humour and comment on life, business and politics in the UAE. And, despite being blocked by the censors for a couple of weeks in 2005, the blog has grown in strength (and readership) since then.

Xquisite or xxxx?

After two years of plotting in a secret basement, Gulf News has finally launched XPress. So is it really a 'new style of newspaper', or just a mildly better organised imitation of City Times with a confused looking front cover and more colours than Sport Extra (if that's possible)? Should 7days - XPress' self-proclaimed rival - be worried?

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Can anyone hack it?

There's been a lot of criticism in the 7days post of the quality (or lack thereof) of journalists/columnists in the region. So is anyone actually any good? Who's your favourite columnist? If nothing else, this post should give those people "close to" Mark Johnson and Jason Leavy an opportunity to sing their praises...

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

A load of royal twiddle

The recent Abu Dhabi visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla raised uproar in the world's media over some comments HRH supposedly made about the perils of eating McDonald's food. (Needless to say, our sources tell us that he was misquoted, which makes you feel a bit sorry for the supersized firm: it has previously donated substantial sums of money to HRH's charity).

One journalist, although ignoring the furore over Big Macs, still managed to ruffle the Royal feathers. Under a cloak of anonymity to avoid a one-way pass to the Tower of London, he emailed: "I wanted to ask him if he'd seen The Queen yet but didn't have the balls. But I did tell him that he'd failed to twiddle after drinking his coffee. He sarcastically replied: 'I am aware of the twiddle. I have been around for some time, you know.' "

No word on whether Camiknickers twiddled. (Apparently, the twiddle is when you shake the little cup for arabic coffee when you're done - wasn't aware that was the technical term though).

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

7days, 6days, 5days and counting

A reader suggests it is time to do something on the "slow demise" of everyone's favourite ragloid, 7Days.

A number of staff have left, there's a new editor who rumour has it doesn't have a clue, editorially they're pretty much avoiding anything interesting, they've lost distribution in Emaar, they're back down to 6days...

And Project X is launching soon. Though no doubt it will be crap too.

So what to think? Did the Russian-bitch-scandal and Arab press whingeing over a few punctuation marks in the infamous Presidential interview finally rip the balls off Dubai's best antidote to the Toady?

Friday, 2 March 2007

Ahlan's turgid 100

Having just got back from a holiday in the land of civilisation, it's taken me a while to clicking through the Ahlan top 100 online. I didn't think this display of egos, money and lack of taste could get any worse. I was wrong - what a list of dross.

I can't understand any logic or rationale in having people like Sharla Musaibih (women's shelter) or the lady who campaigns for the blind alongside a load of wanky DJs and owners of a couple of clothes shops, alongside a few random Emiratis placed solely for wasta/desperation/ad revenue purposes. Special mention goes to the entire AlZa'al family - I was almost disappointed not to see their servants and dogs with their own rankings.

And as for the ghastly horror that said this: her "dream Dubai project" would be to create an entirely different kind of exhibition. "I'd like to open a floating visual room of powerful images for everyone to step into and experience," Emma says.

I'd like to open a room full of the shredded viscera of every single person on this godforsaken list (except the charity people who should never have been tarred with Ahlan's drossy brush in the first place) and cram Ahlan's entire readership into it lock the bloody door until their Botoxed faces start to shrivel and they self-combust with the horror of spending an entire year without being seen at Sho Cho/Boudoir/BloodyBuddha Bar. Perhaps that fantasy will get me a listing in next year's Shite100?

The only good point was that a couple of hideously fake expat brats I know dropped out of the rankings, as did Neil "I have lots of cars and am friends with models" Petch and Walid "successful ITP media scion" Akawi. Or maybe they are the cover stars of the print version, which I can't be arsed to look at.

And before ITP slaves point out that my criticism comes out of jealousy, or that it's great how they have inspired this post, they are wrong. My sources tell me that Ahlan has been turned down more times than Britney Spears' rehab counsellor.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Today's tittle tattle

Blind Item 1: It sounds like the start of a really cracking joke: "ITP boss Robert Serafin, Haymarket's Lord (Michael) (Tarzan) Heseltine and Scottish media guru Andrew Neil were having a meal at Vu's..." You can make up your own *punch*line, given that's what nearly happened when the bearded one of the three stormed out.

Blind Item 2: Which British press baron wrote a letter to an ultra senior Dubai dishdash using the actual phrase: "call your dogs off" in reference to an alleged smear campaign against a Dubai daily tabloid?

Harper's horror

A truly self-congratulatory press release from ITP to announce the launch of Harper's BAZAAR.

Editor Rachel Sharp (formerly at the helm of the twin fabulousity of Ahlan and Grazia) says: "Everybody in the fashion industry that I speak to in Milan, Paris and New York is desperate to be involved in the excitement of Dubai. It is a huge market for them and they are delighted that a magazine with the authority of Harper's BAZAAR is launching in the city."

Sadly, in a city full of superlatives, George J. Green, president of Hearst Magazines International, who have licensed the title, was neither desperate nor delighted, but merely "pleased" to be working with ITP.

Thank goodness for Walid Akawi, one of ITP's titans, who finished off the press statement with a worthy flourish. Just take a moment to absorb the glorious poetry of his quotes, as well as the EXTRA EMPHASIS provided by superfluous upper case.

"They were dazzled by the energy and enlightenment of Dubai's people, and were convinced that the city's women would fall in love with the style and authority of Harper's BAZAAR. When we showed them that cities all over the Gulf, including Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha and Oman were developing with the same passion, they knew that they had to bring a Middle East edition of BAZAAR to this market."

If a PR company had sent out a press release this gushing, it would have been deleted or slated by the media, most notably former ITP title Campaign. And then there's the notion of the "enlightenment" of Dubai's people - a questionable claim at the best of times.