The concept of bona fide and the threat to the UAE’s classifieds industry

If the 7Days report is acted upon soon by the country’s authorities will this mean the end of classified adverts in the UAE? (image source: cre8network.com)

I’m playing catch-up at the moment on the blog, due to moving house and having too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. One piece which did catch my eye was a report in 7Days. The piece, which was entitled ‘UAE Interior Ministry warns newspapers against maids, tutors ads’, quotes a Major General at the UAE’s Interior Ministry as saying:

“Newspapers need to be careful before putting job adverts for domestic workers such as nannies, maids, drivers and private tutors in their publications.

“Publications need to first verify the identities of these people and confirm they are staying legally in the country before they advertise their services.”

The officer notes the numerous reports from families of children being abused by the domestic help or private tutors hired through classifieds. The Major General quotes a recent incident in Abu Dhabi when police arrested a teacher whom allegedly kissed and molested two girls during a private lesson at their home.

“The Australian parents of the girls reported the 58-year-old Egyptian man to police after their daughters, aged eight and 13, told them the private tutor kissed them and also touched the older girl during a maths lessons.

The parents told police they had contacted the teacher through a newspaper advert.”

I want to bring up the concept of bona fide or good faith, the term that encompasses a sincere belief or motive without any malice or the desire to defraud others. It derives from the translation of the Latin term bona fide, and courts use the two terms interchangeably. Just as any other party, newspapers and other providers of classified services including online sites such as Dubizzle need to trust that the other party they’re dealing with are acting in good faith and telling the truth.

To ask newspapers to do due diligence on each and every person advertising as a tutor and/or maid would seem to be a tall task. What would newspapers be asking for? How would they be able to do a background check? And for online sites which host thousands of adverts, would they even have the human resources for such a task?

Revealingly, the 7Days article ends by noting that the tutor to the Australian family had earlier been deported after he was convicted of molesting a child, but returned to the UAE by sneaking through one of the country’s ports. Maybe it’s not the newspapers who should be doing due diligence, but rather other parties?

The Gulf, social media and its self-deprecating humour

The Gulf is known for many things but a sense of humour hasn’t traditionally been on the list, even less so self-deprecating humour. With the advent of social media, in particular YouTube, both the Gulf’s residents and nationals have started to develop content like there’s no tomorrow. The best is currently coming from Saudi Arabia. One example is La Yekthar, one of the most popular comedy shows on the net. The team regularly tackles and takes on stereotypes of Saudis, and one of their latest clips was a fantastic set-up of how Saudis are often perceived by foreigners. The video, which is below, also sends a not-so-subtle message to Saudis that this type of image, of arrogance and violence, isn’t the right thing to do.

Bahrain has also followed suit with a number of send-ups of the typical Bahraini stereotypes. The clips, which are common on the video-sharing site Keek, focus on a variety of stereotypes which are mainly based on geography (for example, Al-Riffa and Muharraq). I’m going to have to search for these but I’m going to upload as soon as I can.

Even Qatar is getting in on the act. The only local Qatari comedian I know, Hamad Al-Amari, routinely does stand-up routines poking fun at Qatari stereotypes before switching effortlessly into an Irish accent (he spent part of his childhood in Ireland). Have a look at one of his sets below.

And then there’s the UAE. While there are a number of local comedians here including the likes of Ali Al Sayed the country has arrested those, even nationals, who have poked fun at the country’s stereotypes. Emirati Salim Dahman and a group of young males who made a spoof YouTube video named the ‘The Deadly Satwa Gs’ were arrested after uploading the clip. No reason seems to have been given for their arrest, but the assumption would be that they’ve been detained for insulting national sensitivities.

To quote from 7Days, which featured the story yesterday, ‘The Deadly Satwa Gs’ video is a spoof of young people who try to act tough. At the martial arts school, the recruits learn how to throw a shoe and call for back-up on their mobile phones. When they graduate from the school, they are all given Barcelona football jerseys, supposedly matching a style worn by young men in Dubai.

The video, which is still available online, is hardly groundbreaking satire and is fairly tame when compared to the content coming out of the Magic Kingdom. However, comedy isn’t always a laughing matter depending on where you are in the Gulf.

PS If you want to know why I haven’t mentioned Kuwait ask any Gulf Arab about Kuwaitis and humour.