Thriving on exaggeration

By Abdullah Bajubeer
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2001-11-16 03:00

EXAGGERATION is too widely used in the Arab world especially when people are talking about past achievements or recent accomplishments. For example, an Arab country once claimed that it had the mightiest army, the largest navy, and the best air force in the world including one-of-a-kind long-range missiles. In fact, its citizens were well aware that what was said was the wildest propaganda. Unfortunately, it seems that magazines and newspapers in the Arab world are following the same course and making wide use of exaggeration.

One example reported in a Saudi newspaper was that nearly two million tourists visited Jeddah last summer. First of all, Jeddah is not a resort or a vacation center but many visitors did come to Jeddah for its Summer Festival. Could it be true that two million came? An average of a million a month for the two month holiday? This works out to 30,000 tourists a day. By what means of transportation did such numbers come to Jeddah? Where did they stay? The fact is that there are not 100,000 hotel rooms in the entire Kingdom nor are there enough furnished flats to cope with that number. So was the report accurate or not?

Interestingly, the Egyptian minister of tourism, made a statement in the same newspaper in which he said that the total number of Arab visitors to Egypt in July was 15,371. Now if Greater Cairo with its tremendous accommodation resources only received that number, how could Jeddah with its limited capacity accommodate two million tourists in two months? In other words, Jeddah had 60 times as many visitors as Cairo! Surely, we can all draw our own conclusions.


SAUD Attaullah, a regular reader of Arab News sister publication Asharq Al-Awsat, has sent me a letter referring to an article published in the same newspaper. The article claimed that a Saudi engineer has designed a mosque suitable for the moon.

“This is a nice dream,” he continued, “but I remember when I was in the United States, I had a conversation with an American space scientist and he told me that the landing on the moon was a lie. Moreover, it is a lie widely believed not only by ordinary citizens but government leaders and scientists. In fact, I asked him if it were not true that the US has landed on the moon and planted the American flag there. He said I should read a book entitled ‘The Moon That We Did Not Reach.’ The author of the book is a retired NASA scientist and the book addressed many facts. For instance, the temperature on the moon varies from 200 degrees above zero to 200 degrees below zero. Who could live in such extremes of temperature? What clothing could withstand such fluctuations? The Soviets exhibited a space suit which stunned the Americans because of its size and the heating and cooling devices built into it. On the other hand, a Hollywood film showed astronauts with light suits who were moving freely and driving cars. Is this a joke or have the Americans pulled the wool over our eyes?”

My dear reader, I have no information or data on this subject but I can shed some light. I have read a book by a well-known Egyptian writer who said that the Americans never reached the moon and that the pictures were fabricated in Hollywood. Whatever the truth, I think these days the Americans are too busy on earth to tackle the matter of space as well!

Main category: 
Old Categories: