A Public Reply to Lara Dunston

I’m writing this post in response to this March 3rd article by Lara Dunston. I’m commenting here because my comments aren’t being posted on the site in question and I would like to defend myself. I’m the person she is talking about. The subject she is talking about is MY need to use guidebooks. She wrote an article about ME and then got all in a huff when I tried to respond.

Here is the background:

Feb 28, she writes an article titled Dubai: destination re-branding urgently required – from ‘playground of the rich’ to the complex compelling place we know it can be . I make one comment in the article about how I didn’t think Dubai was that great of a tourist attraction (something which I stand by). She replies to my comment and then ….

On March 2, she writes a full post in response to my comment on how I really need to use guidebooks titled: There’s more to beaches and malls in Dubai: the case for using a guidebook . The title of which came directly from a line in my comment in the previous article.

So this article is about ME. You will notice there are no comments listed in this article. I wrote a lengthy reply, as I was the impetus for the article. I mean, that seems fair right? You write an entire blog post about ME, take the title from ME, and quote ME you should let ME respond, right?? She never approved my comment. (You should also note that I previously wrote a controversial article on why you don’t need a guidebook) So much for “spirited debate”.

Now if you read the March 3 article where there is all the angst about commenting, I’m accused of “imposing (my) opinions on others, taking the topic to a place that we really weren’t interested in going.” At this point in the “spirited discussion”, I have made a single comment which got an even longer reply and a full blog post that was directed at me personally. All my comments were blocked after this.

Also, I do not even know how it is possible to impose my opinion on someone else, let alone in the comments of another person’s blog. Having an opinion isn’t imposing an opinion.

There was another March 1 post on some Australians who were arrested in Dubai. I made a shorter comment pointing out how she never addressed the facts surrounding the case. People were/are held in Dubai without being accused of a crime. I’m a big lover of freedom and I don’t like that. She approved a pro-Dubai comment but blocks mine which questions the actions of the Dubai government. (this is all really ironic considering that the Dubai government censors the internet and suppresses political dissent) If you are going to defend a government which suppresses speech and can imprison people without due process, then you should expect to defend it. My comment was directly on point to the subject of the article.

She accuses me of be insulting, obnoxious, imposing my opinion on others. If that is the case, prove it to the world. Let everyone see how obnoxious and insulting I am. I’m not the one hiding anything. I made my comments with the expectation of them being public and didn’t post them anonymously.

There never was a spirited debate. She doesn’t seem to like any disagreement, especially on the subject of the government of Dubai. The topic was probably going to “a place that we really weren’t interested in going”. It is hard to defend what the Dubai government is doing. All my comments were on point to the subject in the article which she wrote.

Its her website and if she wants to block comments she can. But I have a website too and I can use my platform to defend myself if she is going to malign me without a chance to reply. I’m not the one hiding anything.

Oh, as an aside, I don’t block comments on this site so anyone is free to comment or disagree with me, so long as the spam filter doesn’t catch it.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

5 replies on “A Public Reply to Lara Dunston”

It’s fascinating to read both sides of the story. I wrote on her blog that I do censor comments, and that’s true – but it depends, really, on my own reaction to a comment.

To Lara: If I do censor a comment, I keep it to myself as it’s a private decision.

To you: If one of my comments were to never be approved on someone else’s blog, I wouldn’t push it with the blog owner. You’re in their house.

Had she not written an angst filled post about the ethics of leaving blog comments, I probably would never have noticed to gone back to check to see if my comment had been approved.

However, she went the added yard of painting me and what I said as if I was some sort of cocktail party creep without letting anyone see for themselves what I had to say. I’m not going to sit for that, and if I can’t defend myself on her blog, I’ll do it on mine.

If you are going to make entire blog posts about the comments of one person (which she has now done twice in two weeks), then have the decency to let the person respond.

The reality is she just doesn’t like to have anyone disagree with her. All her comments about Dubai are cheerleading comments, and there is a lot critical to say about a country which censors speech and dissent.

If you don’t want to have a conversation on the internet, don’t start one. If my comments come across like a cocktail party creep, then let the world make that judgment.

Eh, it’s her blog. She can do what she wants – from being a cheerleader for a certain place to censoring comments. That being said, her post about your commenting is a bit off-topic and passive aggressive. But, life’s too long to worry about it – it’s you that outed yourself as the commenter she was talking about; none of us would have been the wiser.

From the context of your post, I take it that you’ve been to Dubai but don’t claim any particular expertise concerning the place, so one wouldn’t expect you to have seen much past it’s veneer of respectability. Ms. Dunston, by contrast, presents herself as and habitue, intimately familiar with what she terms at one point “our Dubai.”

You may also not have had the chance to review another her recent blog posts entitled ” The Dark Side of Dubai: a hilarious must-read parody of the Dubai-bashing genre”

As Ms. Dunston notes in her blog entry, this is her take on an article by Johann Hari which appeared in the UK Independent on April 9 of this year. I think the article will interest you, here’s the URL

Ms. Dunston’s blog entry treats the article as one big preposterous joke. She calls it a “a brilliant parody on the Dubai-bashing genre of article of which we’ve seen a spate recently in the US, UK and Australian media.”

She goes on to opine that “A lot of people are getting very upset about this story. Not only Emiratis but expats who have lived in the UAE for a long time who know the place intimately, understand its complexities, and love it for all its flaws. Nobody’s dismissing the treatment and hardships experienced by foreign construction workers nor the challenges faced by those losing their jobs that are covered in the stories. They’re upset at the ongoing media attacks on Dubai (it’s truly baffling) and the lack of objectivity and balance in that media coverage, the publication of factual errors, exaggerations and even lies, and the racist tones running throughout much of the coverage. Dubai is not alone as a developing state and economy, nor is it the only state to experience recession.

Now don’t get me wrong, as someone who moved to the UAE in 1998, I also share their frustration but I don’t understand why people can’t see that ‘The Dark Side of Dubai’ is a parody. It’s so obvious. ”

I invite you to read the article for yourself and decide whether you agree with her dismissing it as a “parody.”

I did not get that impression. My impression was that Dubai is a very dangerous place, built on the backs of slave labor, a gaudy and wasteful ecological nightmare that only someone as arrogantly fatuous and careless of the criminal exploitation of Dubai’s temporary workers as Ms. Dunston appears to be could enjoy as a ‘luxury.’

But she appears not to be alone. She’s attracted four or five comments from others who also find the article just over the top with what they agree are obvious exaggerations and winking misrepresentations – it’s all about getting a laugh you see!

I’ve never been to Dubai, but this isn’t the first I’ve heard of these sorts of claims of worker abuse and near imprisonment in Dubai. This is the first time anyone’s bothered to make and effort to look beneath glittering surface, and what she’s found there is beyond disturbing, it’s quite literally criminal and horrifying.

But as the auth0r notes, there appears to be a certain class of people so taken with the opp0rtunity to indulge their sense of luxury that they while they know in a vague way that something is very, very wrong with Dubai, they can’t be bothered with it. After all, even if it were true it would only spoil their vacations.

Ms. Dunston is a proud representative of that class. Not really someone I’d want any travel advice, or any other advice from. I wouldn’t be especially bothered by her dismissive tactics with you. She’s no more concerned with understanding your point than she is with bothering herself about the Indian workers being held in bonded servitude there. It’s simply irrelevant to her, and perfectly in character for her to disregard you and then misrepresent your comments to entertain her audience.

I wonder how many of her books she’d sell if people understood what she’s really about

It seems this is a trend with Lara Dunston. She came to Syria, made ridiculous statements and then deleted my comment when I corrected her on her little blog.

But she went further. She launched a barrage of attacks against me on Twitter. She is a nasty piece of work. Here’s what she said:

I’ve written about her nonsense here:

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