Christopher Davidson claims his book was banned in the UAE.
I'd like to know what his reaction is to these statements
The National Media Council denied last night that it had banned a study of Dubai written by a former professor at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University and said approval for publication in the UAE had been granted.
There were claims in the British press that Dr Christopher Davidson’s book, Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, had been banned due to its content.
But yesterday, the NMC confirmed it had already been approved for countrywide distribution, said Peter Hellyer, the council’s information adviser.
Mr Hellyer said that while there had never been a ban, the study contained “a plethora of errors”.
“There is a statement that there was no tarmac highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai until the mid-1990s, and no all-weather road between Dubai and Fujairah until 2006,” Mr Hellyer said. “These are clearly completely wrong and it makes one doubt the quality and depth of his research.”
He also took issue, he said, with a section regarding the discovery of Dubai’s oil fields.
Mr Davidson “writes that in the mid-1960s, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, the Ruler of Dubai, created a company to operate Dubai’s on-shore oil fields,” Mr Hellyer said. “The only on-shore oil fields were not discovered until 1982.”
When I arrived in the UAE I drove the modern roads between Dubai and Fujairah. That's an odd error to make, really.
But the real questions are (1) does the book contain a "plethora" of errors, and simply a typical number of errors, and (2) what is the evidence that the book was banned?
Until I hear more, I'll go with the National Media Council's account. That said, it is worth noting that the UAE is not as open as some other societies. It has made the choice of having a National Media Council that reviews books, and can ban them from distribution. My guess is a strong majority of UAE citizens have no problem with that choice.
Thanks to samurai sam for the link
I've ordered the book, and will evaluate it.Addendum:
Our second commenter (whose location was rather easy to determine) writes "guardian story here, more detail?!http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/15/uae.denies.banned.book
Here's some of what is in that Guardian article:
UAE booksellers, Davidson and his publisher Hurst said they had previously been told the book, published in May in the UK, was banned.
"We sent copies of the book out to the main bookshops in June," said the Hurst managing director, Michael Dwyer. "They said they had been contacted by ... [the National Media Council] telling them not to order it, that it was banned, and that if they had any copies to return them."
A query to the NMC from Mirna Mneimneh, a wholesale English non-fiction buyer in the region, met with a similar response.
"We sent a copy to the authorities," she said, "and they informed us that it has been banned."
But the UAE's National Media Council (NMC) denied it had ruled against the book, saying that no decision was made until yesterday.
"I think the distributor's agent probably got the wrong end of the stick because he was told it hadn't yet been approved, and he mistakenly took that to mean that the book was being banned," said information adviser Peter Hellyer. "He should, of course, have told the bookshops that no decision had yet been taken."
Hellyer said the NMC decided yesterday not to ban the book. "Whether or not it is distributed and sold is now entirely a matter for the distributor and the bookshops," he added.
Davidson welcomed the decision but queried the NMC's identification of errors, fearing that "they will produce a 200-plus list of errata which may be open to interpretation, that will greatly undermine me."
I will be surprised if the NMC produce an errata sheet. And, if it does, the audience for whom the book is intended will be able to do its own parsing and interpreting of the scholarship.Addendum 2:
See Peter Hellyer's comment. He says work on an errata sheet is going forward, and provides some examples.
Labels: Christopher Davidson