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Hatam and the Saucer

July 2, 2010

Interesting story in the Arab News today. Hatam Al-Ta’iy was a famous pre-Islamic poet who is a byword for generosity in the Arab world. The newspaper reports that a local businessman is investing over $53 million in a tourist centre to be built around the poet’s fireplace in Hail, Saudi Arabia.

The odd thing about the centre is that “a tower in the shape of a flying saucer” will be built to lure the tourists. I’m sure there’s a link, but it’s not immediately apparent. Hatam appears in the Arabian Nights – or at least his ghost does – so perhaps given the technical difficulty of constructing a tower in the shape of a flying carpet, a flying saucer is considered to be the next best thing.

But it seems on the surface as strange a proposition as erecting one of the retired space shuttles next to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-on-Avon to attract visitors to the home of Shakespeare’s wife.

On the other hand it could be an inspired decision, given the Saudi love of poetry and advanced transportation machines. A few weeks ago I met a young Saudi who told me that his life’s ambition was to build a flying car.

Prince Charles might be interested in this story. Followers of the UK’s beloved heir to the throne will remember his intervention with the Emir of Qatar, which allegedly prevented the Chelsea Barracks site in London from being turned into a Lord Rodgers-designed glass and steel concoction by the Qatar sovereign wealth fund’s property development arm.

Perhaps he should be told….

The article is at

From → Middle East, UK

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