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The 60s, the UK and the Yemen 15, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK, Yemen.
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This is another link to a fantastic Adam Curtis blog posting. Here he delves into the history of the Yemen and finds it something of a pivotal place with Britain’s actions there in the 60’s having direct and traceable relations to what’s happening today in much more subtle ways that simple ‘Yemen as a failed state’ narrative. It also includes some fascinating BBC archive footage of what is decidedly not Britain’s finest hour.

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Intercontinental Hotel Kabul 15, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Central Asia.
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The Intercontinental was perched above the city with wonderful views. It was where the western businesspeople, the diplomats and the rich tourists all stayed. But it also quickly became the place for the Kabul elite to go – for tea, for parties, and for weddings. They were the modern people of Kabul who were helping to make the King’s vision come true.They were also a “slimy opportunistic clique” – according to Nancy Hatch Dupree. She was an American archaeologist who knew everyone in Kabul.

And then rock music came to Kabul, courtesy of the Intercontinental Hotel.

The Intercontinental’s food and beverages manager asked a musician called Claude Selvaradna to create a house band for the hotel. Claude had been a sergeant in the Sri Lankan army but now he lived in Kabul and he knew that rock music was the future. He brought in some musicians from Sri Lanka and put together a band he called The Esquire Set.

For what can probably be described as the definitive history of Kabul take your time and go through its history at Adam Curtis’ blog at the BBC.

Dubai documentary in 1975 15, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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I’ve just stumbled upon a fantastic blog by Adam Curtis, an exceptional British documentary film maker. I highly recommend a good trawl through his website, there are a number of gems there. One of them is a brief summary and a link to a 15 minute BBC documentary made in Dubai in 1975 focusing and interviewing Shiekh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, today’s ruler of Dubai.

It is not only quite something to see Dubai before all its gaudy skyscrapers but see how much the Sheikh apparently values his tribal connections. ‘Most days’, it is narrated, he flies in his helicopter into the desert to see, meet and arbitrate with and for his people. It is a mirror image throw-back to the typical notion of a tribal leader in the Arabian Peninsula. How true it was i.e. whether it was mostly for the film crews benefit is, of course, hard to say. The genuflecting visit of the British mission is also worth seeing.