Thursday, October 30, 2008

Opps

Financial Times gets a letter:

Sir, Roula Khalaf, in her review of Christopher Davidson’s The Vulnerability of Success, cites the author as pointing out that a road linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai was not built until the mid-1990s (“Glitzy Dubai has a darker side”, October 20).

I drove a Pontiac Firebird from Amman in Jordan to Dubai via Abu Dhabi 20 years earlier, in 1976. There was a reasonable road all the way, with the exception of a stretch between the Qatar and Abu Dhabi borders which was unpaved desert. But the excellent dual carriageway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was by far the best paved road of the whole journey.

It is surprising that Mr Davidson, as a “rare expert on the UAE”, and your Middle East editor should both make such a simple and checkable factual error.

R.C.F. Martin,
Tonbridge, Kent, UK

Having read it, I can attest there is much more in Davidson's book although much would be difficult to confirm since it relies on personal interviews and correspondence with unnamed sources. Nor is there any general discussion of these sources and interviews.

The nature of the road linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai keeps coming up in criticism of the book. Davidson got that wrong, and it is a fairly straightforward fact to check. Abu Dhabi and Dubai were more developed and more connected than that misstatement of fact would suggest. Still, I can only say one has to read the book in its entirety and make a personal assessment of its credibility. Whether I would cite it as a reference on facts that I could not otherwise corroborate is another matter.

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