It is impossible to say what could have happened in Syria if attempts had been made to foster dialogue, rather than a violent uprising, but one thing is clear. If we do not seize our opportunity to foster such discussions in the UAE, then the future looks grim for all given that the authorities continue to detain all those who call for democratic reform.
It may be an inconvenient truth, given our vast trade links with the UAE, but surely we can no longer ignore the events taking place in the Gulf State. If not for the principle of humanitarianism, then for our trade links there we must speak up. If the naivety of the rulers continues in the same vein, those very links might be put in danger.
The UAE. A place famous for tax-free shopping, stunning feats of construction and beautiful beaches. So much so that one million Britons visit each year. Scratch beneath the aesthetics of opulent Dubai however, and a much darker story begins to emerge.
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Last Wednesday, 26 October 2011, the University of East Anglia announced its plans to close down the School of Music, with a recommendation "not to invest further" in creative musical education.
It is obvious to everyone that Bashar al Assad and his henchmen are not interested in human rights or reforms. They are totally focused on power, money and survival of the regime even if this means a civil war and a blood bath.