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Al Jazeera’s cheeky Burj Khalifah headline 5, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera.
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Al Jazeera’s headline on a lead article discussing the opening of the world’s tallest building in Dubai is, I believe, an example of the type of journalism that angers various people around the region.

دبي تتجاهل الديون وتفتتح برجها

Dubai ignores the debt and opens its tower

My translation is, I think it’s fair to say, a kind one. The root of the verb that they use for ignore  VI جهل means, according to the universally recognised most authoritative arabic-english dictionary:

to ignore; to refuse to have anything to do; shut one’s eyes, disregard; to affect ignorance, pretend to know nothing

Whilst my arabic is in no way, shape or form good enough to pronounce something to be the case, I really would suggest that this is a really rather cheeky headline. This word has well-known connotations and other meanings that are rather negative. There is, incidentally, no way of knowing what the author really was trying to get at: he could have been meaning to say ‘Dubai pretends to know nothing about its debt and opens its tower’; both are written exactly the same in the Arabic language but mean, of course, different things. This kind of naughty quasi-double entendre is par for the course for many journalists as an interesting headline to attract attention. I doubt, however, whether the powers that be in Dubai would be quite as forgiving.

Update:

Poor form, I forgot the Hat tip: Abstract JK and his tip-top blog http://alajnabi.blogspot.com/

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Comments»

1. zaydoun - 7, January 2010

It actually means Dubai ignores ITS debts.. etc

And it’s the honest truth, isn’t it?

2. Houwari - 12, January 2010

It does indeed mean “ignore”, and as you suggested it has the pejorative connotation that it is wilful ignorance.

davidbroberts - 13, January 2010

Thanks for that. Indeed, that’s as I thought. So do you think that it’s a cheeky headline, that there was/is a better less ‘loaded’ term that the article could have used?

3. Houwari - 13, January 2010

It’s cheeky indeed. I can’t think of a substitute though, the headline could have neutrally been “Dubai open its tower amid debt problems” (دبي تفتتح البرج في ضل مشكلة الديون) or something to that effect.

In the Gulf there is this absurd rivalry over infrastructure spending. I was once in SA and innocently talked about Dubai’s investments with a fairly open minded guy I met there. He started raving about how what’s done in Dubai is not significant and how SA is much better at investing in “technology cities” and “science cities” and universities, how Bahrain is just “a village” and would be dead if not for the bridge they have to SA, how Dubai and the surroundings are mindless at spending, how Riyadth is big and cool, then on and on about Kuwait and Qatar and so forth. His rant was absurd but hilarious and fully illustrated the Gulf rivalry to me.

Aljazeera, being stationed in Qatar, despite the high professional standards occasionally displays this kind of rivalry especially towards Dubai and the emirates.


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