Friday, February 13, 2009

Dubai: recession and debtor's prison: and reporters or bloggers who speak about it there could be fined


Robert F. Worth has a front page story on the February 12, 2009 New York Times about the apparent free-fall collapse of the Dubai economy. The article is titled “Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Once Booming Dubai Spirals Down,” link here. One real problem is that in Dubai (and apparently in many Muslim cultures) people can go to debtor’s prison, just like in Charles Dickens’s England. So many leave and abandon condos and expensive cars. It sounds as though some areas of the artificial archipelagos called “The Palms” could be left in blight unless there is a definite government commitment to finish them, and then eventually they could be vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Furthermore, the government is considering a law that makes it a crime, punishable by a large fine ($270000) to harm the reputation or economy. It would appear that this could apply to broadcast media or even websites and blogs, and films. I wonder what would happen if a major news outlet (like CNN’s Christiane Amanpour) did a truthful story on the situation. Could the reporter be banned from the country or jailed or imprisoned if he or she stepped foot in the country? I’ve raised that question before with bloggers from abroad who might have “insulted” Mohammed. I wonder.

From appearances, Abu Dhabi, with its planned green development (Feb. 2 here) may be doing better.

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