Tariq A. Al-Maeena
I have always believed that there was a level beyond which human decency could not possibly sink. But merchants in three GCC countries have proved me wrong. In the quest for publicity and profit, they have resorted to a degree of sleaze that I would never have imagined.
In the first instance, Kim Kardashian, an American socialite known for getting into the news by dabbling in sordid situations, was in Kuwait to promote her business ventures just days after she had tweeted her prayers for the people of Israel during Israel’s bombing of Gaza.
In a provocatively revealing dress in a conservative nation, she was busily pandering her goods to the hundreds who thronged the mall where she appeared.
She followed that trip with a visit to Bahrain to promote her line of milkshakes. But her visit there was not without controversy.
While many paid up to $1400 for a chance to see her, many others demonstrated against her visit. Many banded together protesting her stay in the island nation.
In their march, some carried signs and placards stating that “none of our customs and traditions allows us to receive stars of porn movies.” Members of the Bahraini parliament initiated a proposal referring to her as “an actress with an extremely bad reputation who could damage our morals and spread vice throughout the country.”
This socialite’s notoriety took off back in 2007 when a porn video tape of her surfaced in public. She then followed that with an appearance in Playboy magazine where she bared it all. Since then, her life has been peppered with marriages, affairs, divorces and more nudity and she has shown no aversion to being photographed in revealing outfits as part of her self-promotion.
One objector vented, “What is she doing here? Showing off her body? Has she no shame? She is a disgrace to her country, and should stick to her embarrassing marriages and humiliating her father’s name. She is a joke.
We are not like that.”
Paris Hilton, another American socialite with a mucky past, has had a franchise of her store opened in the city revered by Muslims all over the world — Makkah! This woman too achieved her notoriety after a porn movie she made was released back in November 2003. A hard partying girl with a past littered with a number of broken relationships and brushes with the law, Paris does not shy away from the limelight.
In opening her store in Makkah Mall, adjacent to the Grand Mosque, Paris tweeted, “Loving my beautiful new store that just opened at Mecca Mall in Saudi Arabia! This is the 5th store in Saudi Arabia, and store number 42 in total! So proud to keep growing my brand!” Paris was not there in person as this would have certainly been an affront to all. But a store carrying her name exists in the city.
Needless to say, her tweet prompted many Muslims from all corners of the world to voice their displeasure, accusing her of “insulting Makkah.”
A Saudi cleric from Makkah stated, “It is unnecessary to have her shop here because we do not need it.” A resident of the city added, “How can someone who made such a video open a store in the holy city next to the Grand Mosque? It is not acceptable to have such a woman open her store here.”
And even another added, “What more should Paris do to promote herself in the Holy Land and to try to diminish the sanctity of the house of Allah?
Should she market dates bearing her name? Should she provide shortened clothing more friendly to the hot sultry desert environment? Should she market water sprinklers?”
Both these women who rose to fame through sexual notoriety have continued to tease their followers with a steady dose of sleaze as they go about marketing their business ventures. And in all fairness, they are doing a good job through all of it.
But is this what countries in the GCC need to promote, the sleaze factor courtesy of Kardashian and Paris Hilton? The women did not begin these business ventures without local association. Have our merchants indeed sunk so low in quest of any way to make a profit that good judgment and a service to society are disregarded? Where are our morals in this equation? And what next I wonder?
— The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org