Friday, May 17, 2013

17-May-13: Prof. Karabus, according to news reports, has been released and is on a flight to Cape Town at this hour

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For those interested enough, there will soon be a plethora of news reports fleshing out the missing details of what is happening right this minute, in the final stages of the Karabus scandal. The hitherto-captive paediatrician is reported to have departed the UAE in the small hours of this morning ["Karabus on his way to SA" via SAPA, 8:45 this morning] and to be on a nonstop flight to Cape Town, South Africa right now. The hope is he will be on home turf before noon today, Friday. If there is justice in the world there will be a cheering crowd of well-wishers and a delegation of government officials on hand to greet and comfort him. May it all go smoothly and with zero surprises. The past nine months have produced far too much [see our posts] of a very different sort of experience.

It will be perfectly understandable if today's focus will be on the happy ending. That is completely fitting.

But it will be irresponsible and unjust to ignore the injustices, indignities and distortions to which the man and his family have been exposed and of which they have been undeserving victims. The problem is that the problems stem from a phenomenon whose political un-correctness makes it mostly un-reportable and un-discussed.

Far from being respectable nations in the modern sense, the UAE is a collection of family-owned businesses ('emirates', in the tight control of unelected hereditary rulers) with the extremely good fortune of either themselves possessing, or of being close neighbours of others who possess, epic quantities of subterranean resources. So many individuals and institutions partake of the feast created in the past three decades by the flow of oil, gas and hard currency that the dark underside is, by common agreement, rarely discussed out in the open.

The oppression, exploitation and disenfranchisement of foreign workers; the capricious meting out of self-serving rules and laws and punishments; the undisguised discrimination based on race, on gender, on religious faith - everyone who comes into contact with life in the region knows about the realities but it serves almost no one, other than the victims, to talk about them out in the open.

So the victims continue to be victimized and everyone else does whatever they need to do to avoid becoming one themselves. And so it goes on.

The bright lights of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest will continue to attract the moths, at least so long as the party goes on and the money flows. But it's good to keep in mind the blinding effect those lights can have. And it's always wise to recall how inadequately the news media can sometimes convey the realities of things that happen to other people in remote places.

Welcome back to the embrace of your homeland and your loved ones, Prof. Karabus.

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