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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Qatari poet’s UAE visit sparks backlash from Emiratis, Saudis 


The poet had previously been vocal against the former blockading countries.

Qatari poet Mohammed bin Al-Dheeb sparked controversy on social media during his visit to the UAE for the first time since the two nations reconciled.

Emirati journalist Abdullah bin Dafna posted a Snapchat video to welcome Al-Dheeb, who was in Abu Dhabi for a poetry council meeting.

“We welcome the great poet, Muhammad bin Al-Dheeb, in our council in Abu Dhabi, a visit dear to our hearts from our dear friend,” the Emirati journalist said.

The journalist reposted the welcome on his Twitter account, only to be met with outrage from Emiratis and Saudis who objected to his visit.

“Now we’ll just need to welcome those who stepped on Sheikh Zayed’s picture, may God have mercy on him, so people will say you are a forgiving person… social hypocrisy at its best,” one Emirati user said.

Other social media users referenced previous poetry written by the Qatari in which he criticised the former blockading countries for their politics against his home country.

Meanwhile, others took aim at the Emirati journalist who hosted the poet, accusing him of welcoming “someone who offended our nation and brothers and a person who wrote an elegy to the ‘terrorist Soleimani,” referencing Iran’s slain commander.

“He welcomed him and described him as a ‘great poet’ but didn’t he once quote the great poet Jumaa Al Ghuwais who is ‘indeed great’ saying, we disregard those who disrespect our home? “What happened? or where you just fooling the people?” the user said.

Others called on Twitter users to block the Emirati journalist.

“I hope everyone who respects his homeland and rulers blocks Bin Dafna’s account and let’s see if Bin Dheeb is going to do him any good since he is his brother now and closer to him than his own people, who he disregarded and disrespected,” one account said.

However, Abdullah bin Dafna responded to the attacks in a video posted online, in which he says: “The first thing that you see when you enter the UAE is a sign saying ‘Welcome to the United Arab Emirates’, and everyone who enters this land preaches dignity, kindness and love.”

“Since he’s now in the UAE, he is welcome. The UAE is a society of tolerance, kindness, love and dignity. Its people honour their guests and these are the values of the children of Zayed. Whoever disagrees, is not of the children of Zayed,” he said, referring to the founding father.

He also defended the poet, saying, “the man has not disrespected the Emirates and its rulers even with a single word and always talks positively about the UAE and its rulers,” he added.

However, despite his video, attacks against the journalist persisted, forcing him to threaten legal action.

“A message to every sane person, people do not have the right to incite hate speech against anyone whom the state receives and whose residency is legal, and whoever has a rightful claim, claim it through legal means.”

Ibn al-Dheeb attacks former blockading countries

In one of the last poems published before the Gulf reconciliation in January, ibn al-Dheeb took aim at the blockading countries and indirectly attacked those who normalised with the Israeli occupation forces.

He also appeared in a video in which he recited a poem for Jerusalem, shaming all Gulf countries who gave up on the Palestinians to normalise with Israel.

“The Turks terrify them with Erdogan… and the Persian exposes their falsehood, and we are protected by my Lord.. Our souls do not accept grievance and will never abandon [the Palestinians].

“Even you, old man, have betrayed their trust… shame on you,” he continued.

The poet also went on to describe Kuwait and Qatar’s position in the Gulf, comparing political pressure exerted on them with Prophet Yousif who was “humiliated by his brothers but never betrayed them.”

The Qatari poet retires 

Ibn Al Dheeb announced his retirement last year, soon after writing a controversial poem eulogising General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who was killed last year by an American strike near Baghdad International Airport.

Following backlash, he appeared in a video saying “upon the request of a person dear to me, I decided to quit poetry completely.”

“I will not go back to [writing poetry], and I will not return from this decision except at the request of the same person, asking God to protect the Gulf countries and the Islamic nation,” he added.

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