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Aysha Taryam: An open letter to The Guardian
November 18, 2012
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Dear Guardian,

For years you have taken it upon yourself to single-handedly defame my country the United Arab Emirates. For reasons unknown the UAE has had to endure your endless bombardments of smear campaigns and ugliness in the name of free journalism.

In articles dating as far back as 2000 you have attacked the Emirates in all your sections from politics to travel. You have sent reporters with a mission to excavate only the negative, no matter how minute it may be, and inflated it into certain truths. You have only to enter the name of any Emirate in your website’s search box and watch as the archives of ugliness start to unfold. Pages worth of headlines that will make anyone who knows the UAE shudder. Your commentators and news reports have called our buildings “the nastiest you’ve ever seen,” our lifestyle “a place where the worst of western capitalism and the worst of Gulf Arab racism meet in a horrible vortex,” labelled our rulers “dictators” and even advised Dr Who not to film on our land!

All this unsubstantiated drivel we have heard from you throughout the years and have remained silent simply because we have taken it as just that.

Eventually when your army of pen pushers failed to paint the bleak image of the UAE that they have set out to do you stepped up to this one-sided battle and wrote an editorial denouncing my country, but why?

For anyone who has ever been to the UAE or chose to make it their home, for the people of UAE this is mindboggling to say the least. The UAE is a peaceful country; its rulers are as much of the people as the people are a part of this country. Emiratis are a welcoming, tolerant people who have in only 41 years opened up their doors and overcome the culture shock that comes with such a transformation with class and grace.

The country’s foreign affairs are solid and its worldwide humanitarian efforts are ones all nations must strive to emulate. One has only to visit the UAE, talk to its people and the people who have chosen to raise their children in it to know what it truly is.

We understand your bewilderment at the success of this great nation’s experiment in unity and peace. We do not blame you for feeling a tad bit confused about its resilience in the face of economic adversity and the continuous drive of its people. But does that really warrant all this resentment from you?

Granted, there are many aspects to our country that need to be developed and revised and we are well on our way to doing so. 41 years old this December the UAE’s achievements, cultural sophistication and tolerance transcend its young age as a united nation. In our 41 years we have not waged wars, we have sought peace, we have not divided our land based on race, we have embraced more than 200 nationalities as our own. We have tolerated judgment and criticism from nations who have fought and aided wars on either side of the globe and listened to them preach their version of democracy while they take actions of which hypocrisy is ashamed.

We are an educated nation with a 97% literacy rate and we have heard you loud and clear. Now it is time for you to hear us. Twelve years of this one-sided reporting is putting a damper on your impartiality and frankly hurting your credibility as a respected paper. Any person in their right mind, whether they have been to the UAE or not, cannot believe that a country as popular and loved as this one would not have one good aspect to report or comment on. How could people from all walks of the earth flock to a nation that is as ugly as you say? That is a true anomaly, a real wonder of the world, a mystery that has yet to be explained and based on your reporting I think it never will be.

(This letter has been emailed to The Guardian)
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