Friday, October 10, 2008


I was fortunate enough to get a copy of Oliver Stone's W script, as we had some investors in the GCC who wanted to look at investing in films. In the end, most thought it was to controversial.

It really is a good story, and I don't think it's controversial at all. It's out there...but it makes you think, which IMO is what a good film should do.

I believe it is in a trailer for Bill Maher's film, Religulous, where there is a clip of Bush. Apparently he is answering a question on foreign policy (you don't hear the question) His answer is along the lines of "I believe that God wants everyone to be free, so that is the basis of my foreign policy."

Now that is not verbatim, but close to what is on the clip. How ignorant can someone sound? Even if you are deeply religious, which is one's personal right, to express this goes beyond insane. Whose God is he talking about? How pompous that he believes that if "his God" says must be so.

I am not arguing that freedom is a negative thing, but by making such a statement, you are not taking into consideration other people's concept of what God is or isn't.

No wonder he is the worst President the US has had. Anyway, I would recommend seeing W, and I am going to see Religulous. Curious if either will play in the GCC.....

Sammy the Shark

While I am still in Los Angeles, I have been reading the UAE news online.

I really think the current "Save Sammy" campaign is fantastic. The issue itself, keeping an endangered animal captive in violation of CITES, is a slap in the face to the UAE Federal Govt.

Yes it's true that there are certainly other important things to address in the UAE, like the rights of laborers. However, when a high profile establishment like Atlantis is allowed to openly defy an initiative that the Federal Govt. signed on with, the message it sends is not good. The whole idea of protecting endangered animals is so that we can keep them from becoming extinct. One could argue, "If Atlantis can do this, why can't I?" and before you know it people don't pay attention to what CITES initiative is working to accomplish.

However, I think the really fantastic bit of this is, that the public is getting involved with the campaign. Social conscience has long been a part of America's history. Americans have openly railed against our government, big business and other groups they felt were not leaving a positive contribution. This freedom of expression is protected by law. I won't deny that there have been abuses of this, but the concept of freedom of expression is a positive one. Taken to the extreme, California is one of the states that has something to say publicly about just about everything!

Even though the laws are different in the UAE, most Nationals I have met are just as vocal in what they believe and just as concerned about current issues. However, it appears that it is not their custom to voice these opinions openly (but that is changing with some of the talented Emirati bloggers) The people who are wearing the "Save Sammy" buttons are in reality, staging a polite protest and expressing their social conscience, and Gulf News posting their photos is giving this campaign legitimacy.

Hopefully, Atlantis decides to do something sooner than later because of the negative press and releases Sammy, or the Federal Govt. intervenes.

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.- Albert Einstein

Gulf News

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This is an except from the LA Times. Zbigniew Brzezinski served as national security advisor to President Carter and is considered to be a well respected figure in American foreign policy.

Brzezinski: It can be a catalyst. Not for actions directed by the United States but for actions that the local community -- maybe we can call them stakeholders in a global system -- is prepared collectively to embrace. That kind of leadership is needed. But for that kind of leadership to emerge in America, we not only need very special people as leaders -- and they do come up occasionally -- but we need a far more enlightened society than we have.

I think Americans are curiously, paradoxically, simultaneously very well-educated and amazingly ignorant. We are a society that lives within itself. We're not interested in the history of other countries.

Today we have a problem with Iran. How many Americans know anything about Iranian history? Do they know that it is a bifurcated history? There have been two Irans. And those two different periods, pre-Islamic and post-Islamic, dialectically define the tensions and the realities of Iran today. [Americans] know nothing about it.

Quite a few Americans entering college could not locate Great Britain on the map. They couldn't locate Iraq on the map after five years of war. Thirty percent couldn't identify the Pacific Ocean. We don't teach global history; we don't teach global geography. I think most Americans don't have the kind of sophistication that an America that inspires, and thereby leads, will have to have if it is to do what this 21st century really will demand of us.

OK, I consider myself to be one of the well educated/exceptionally curious Americans. I can certainly tell you where Great Britain is, know about Iranian history, Iraq, Islam, countries of the GCC, etc. It never ceases to amaze me that when I am in the US and start to talk about traveling, and living in the UAE, people are mesmerized.

Come on people...READ! We have the Internet, look things up and learn something. Americans always think the Arabs must be ignorant...the fact is the average Emirati/Qatari/Kuwaiti is usually better educated than the average American. As I've not yet been to Iran, I'm going to guess it's the same there, judging by the Iranians I know who are all well travelled and up on current events.

But the thing I have experienced that I feel is amazing is that most people you speak to, especially in the GCC, have nothing but good things to say about Americans. If you talk to Emiratis in their late 30's to mid 50's, most either went to school in the US, or travelled there. The stories they tell reflect a fondness for the experiences they had. Most don't understand our Govt. but then, neither do I!

It's really a shame, Americans don't have the respect we once had internationally. Respect is something that is earned and we certainly need to examine this.

East meets West

This is probably not PC, but here goes.

There are so many people here in the US with the idea of "let's go get money from the Arabs." Especially in the film industry, since AD is getting into film financing.

There is never any thought as to "Who are these people? Maybe I would like to get to know them." I remember reading an article and an unnamed Emirati commented, "What do they think we are ATM machines?" Unfortunately YES.

The other point is that during the Presidential conventions, people kept talking about the "evil oil mongers in the Middle East," and similar quotes.

Correct me, but the last time I checked, with the exception of Iran, everyone else in the GCC the US buys oil from is a US ally...hhmmm, perhaps I missed something?

If the US keeps looking to the GCC for bailouts, then we should make it a priority to include them and not use them as a sound byte. What if every time we talked about the Germans we said "those Nazis." It's just as horrible. The perception put out is that somehow the Arabs (because they have oil) are rotten and responsible for our economic mess. If gas was cheaper, it would be cheaper to travel, ship goods, etc.

News flash...OUR Government is responsible for this mess.

So if we keep wanting the Arabs to bail us out...then we HAVE to start including them and quit with the negative BS. Otherwise, don't take their money.

On the flip side, now is the perfect time for the GCC countries to insist that the US cut the negative BS about them. Remember the Golden Rule...the guy with the gold makes the rules!