Monday, September 18, 2006

our man in arabia


Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum-- aka "Sheik Mo"-- has been celebrated by Time Magazine as a world-shaping titan and embraced by the Bush family as a business partner. This week, however, a court in Lexington, Ky., indicted him as a trafficker in boy slaves. The class-action suit accuses the Sheik of financing the kidnapping and transfer of young boys to Dubai, where they are put to work as camel jockeys to entertain the petro-dollar elite. Tom Flocco offers this summary of the story being reported this week by AP:

The U.S.-based suit alleges that Mohammed and his brother were part of a conspiracy "to buy boys in the slave trade and hold them in bondage in brutal camps in the Dubai desert." The lawsuit reportedly detailed information involving thousands of boys as young as four years old who were prized because they weighed less than 44 pounds. Sheikh Mohammed's personal 747 aircraft was parked at Bluegrass Airport this week in Lexington [...] AP has not reported whether evidence exists regarding young boys being trafficked out of Lexington. The sheikh was reportedly there purchasing thoroughbred yearlings.


Time raves that although Sheik Mo's "family-run city-state is no democracy [...] it has become a model of business-style governance." Ah yes of course, how we love business-style governance, where mere enslavement is no barrier to achieving the dream-life of wealth and success!

But Sheik Mo-- in addition to being a world-shaping titan and an alleged slaver-- is a poet. And in an online offering called "The Ferocity of the Lions," he may be hinting at his true feelings on the matter of the enslaved boy jockeys:

Oh the hope of my life!
Oh the peak of my desire!
Tell me how to get rid of the manacles.

The rest of his verse is less clear but equally evocative... that is to say, a complete mystery of sillines. I have no idea what any of it is about. My guess, though, is that if Saddam Hussein, another of the region's ruler-poets, had embraced "business-style governance" when he had the chance, he'd likely be at the races today, scribbling his verse in the open air instead of in a tiny jail cell and making plans to buy buildings in Manhattan and horses in Kentucky.

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