News Desk |
A satirical aviation-based news outlet, Thin Air Today, published a story mocking the rich Arab men of the Gulf. The story stereotyped the negative image of rich Arab men who can buy everything with their oil money. A satirical story asserted that a Saudi father accidentally bought two Airbus A350-1000s as a birthday present worth N108 billion for his son after searching for small-scale model planes. The news was widely published on major news outlets and got hilarious reactions from people on social media.
The satirical story did not name the Saudi father and described him as a major investor in the energy sector in KSA. The news story stated that the father was searching for small models of the plane as birthday gifts for his son, who has a passion for aviation. When he called the world’s second-biggest aerospace company Airbus to obtain model planes, however, his lack of verbal clarity in the English language made communication between him and the company difficult. The company misunderstood that he meant to order real planes and went onto process the order.
“They asked so many questions about interior and exterior, I just thought they make very accurate scale models,” the Saudi was reported as saying. When the price was around $365 million was presented to the man, it did not seem to deter him saying that, “I got lost in currency conversions, I thought it was a bit expensive but still reasonable.”
The blurred image of Saudis held by Westerners is mutual. Contrary to that, Saudis believe what they watch on television and in Hollywood movies about crime rates in the west.
The full extent of the blunder was finally revealed when a few months later, Airbus called him to inform him that the planes were ready to be delivered. “They asked me who will fly it; I thought it was a joke.” The man eventually decided to keep one of the planes and give one away as a gift to his cousin.
The report, which is now making rounds on social media, garnered hilarious reactions with many people wishing for a wealthy father.
Vilifying Arabs in West
Saudis are stereotyped in the West as either being terrorists, super-rich or riding camels out in the desert. Western journalists, media houses, and people on social media often reinforce these views.
“The image of Saudi Arabia in the West is not positive at all,” Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, was quoted as saying. He added that the amalgamation of three factors: excessive wealth, abuse of women and intolerance for other religions gave rise to negative stereotypes of Arab men in the West.
The outlook of westerners changes when they visit the Kingdom. Adding that, “it for what it is, a place like any other with positive and negative sides, but also very kind and with welcoming people, their ideas change. However, there is an industry of people in the West and elsewhere who make it their business to vilify KSA and to depict the most negative image of the place.”
Hollywood has primarily played a big part in reinforcing a certain kind of image of Arab men. In many films released in the mid-1980s, Arab men were portrayed as cowardly, primitive, ignorant, cruel, vicious, lecherous and, often, fabulously wealthy. An Arab woman is either portrayed as a sensuous belly dancer, whore, terrorist or a veiled, silent appendage to her husband.
The observers have attributed this misinformation to the lack of exchange of information and communication between the people of the Kingdom and Westerners. The blurred image of Saudis held by Westerners is mutual. Contrary to that, Saudis believe what they watch on television and in Hollywood movies about crime rates in the west. They believe they will be targeted by criminals who will rob, kidnap or just kill them just like in western movies.