Saturday, July 08, 2006


This week BoingBoing lampooned the vanity site of the Sheikh of Dubai in connection with their coverage of his decision to release a music producer on drug possession charges. The mega-blog also noted his government's use of filtering software that bans BoingBoing from the country's cyberspace. Having visited the websites of heads of states around the world, the Sheikh's web presence doesn't look as megalomaniacal as some I have seen. Besides, the "Virtual Tour" of Dubai and the Flash movie ". . . in the race for excellence" represent some pretty spiffy web design.

Some may be tempted to make fun of the sheikh's generous selection of his poetry, many with sappy titles like "Jilted," but in the great scheme of things why should playing the bard exclude someone from positions of political responsibility? Can't poets be legislators too? Despite the fact that every cinematic representation since Apocalypse Now! has made it seem like evidence of mental instability for a leader of men to crank out lines of poetry, it is still an important part of human culture in many parts of the world. Even Donald Rumsfeld writes poetry, albeit unintentionally, and he still is part of the U.S. Cabinet. And we do have a Poet Laureate, who has an official site at the Library of Congress (which is really more about his correct Library of Congress Subject Headings than his work).

After all, the President of India has put a substantial amount of his own verse online on his official website. And it's not like the Dubai poetry is a required part of the national curriculum, as President Niyazov's political epic, the Ruhnahma is in Turkmenistan. In other political poetry news, check out this BBC report on Pakistan's decision to delete a pro-Bush poem called "The Leader" from its textbooks that actual spells out the U.S. Chief Executive's name in the first letter of each line.

When it comes to other fare from the Middle East, I like the instructions for using the website of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, mostly because I just like the soothing voice of the narrator, which sounds like it should be hawking tea or fundraising for public television.

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