Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bin Laden and gone and done it

The fridge has gone to the menders for the second time in the space of a week, there is something strange going on with both our stomachs, possibly something to do with not being able to keep food properly cold for about a month now, I am covered in mosquito bites which I am allergic to so they're swelling up like the plague, I walked into the screen door this morning and writing about Swiss watches may be fairly lucrative but it's a bit dull.

Still, it could be worse, I could have been Osama Bin Laden. Or Nick Clegg for that matter.

The English language newspapers are managing to tread a tight rope of not being too taken in by the maddest conspiracy theories about the death of the big boss of Al Qaeda.  It's fair to say there's a bit of anti-American stuff flying around but mainly in the readers' comments, not the editorial.  I don't think it's any particularly new anti-American feeling, just seething resentment that bubbles under the surface and appears when something like this happens.

I tend to find when someone dies suddenly or in violent circumstances, that's when you really learn about them because their obituaries which have been being prepared for years are published.
It's obviously big news here that he's died, but the name "Bin Laden" is both taboo and non-taboo here.

He had 50 or more half brothers and sisters and as Saudi Arabia isn't actually that far away, successful builder daddy Laden's building company is responsible for projects so it's not uncommon to see "Bin Laden Group" emblazoned on construction sites.  Takes some getting used to for your average Westerner who consciously or sub consciously associates the name with evil.  I also learned that Osama's Syrian mother was known as the "slave" among her husband's family and he was called "slave child" which is enough to give anyone a bit of a chip on their shoulder, although probably not a justifiable excuse for turning into a mass murdering psychopath.

However, I was working on a truly faskinating feature on watches used in aviation the other day and I came across a watchmaker called Yeslam which produces a really rather ostentatious, although not by Swiss watch standards, timepiece called The Aviator. 

Thunk I: "Who or what is Yeslam?" A quick trip around the internet yielded no cigar from the website. 
"That's odd," I thought.  "Maybe this Yeslam is the Middle Eastern watchmaking equivalent of Madonna or Sting and needs no other name. Still, it would be handy to know who he or she is as it addes the personal touch."

Further research proved, as you've probably guessed, that Yeslam is in fact Yeslam Bin Laden,  half brother of the recently deceased Osama.  Yeslam like many of the Bin Laden family is late of Saudi Arabia and now of Switzerland.  Mr Yeslam Bin Laden has given interviews in the past disassociating himself from his half-sibling and his terrormongering activities.  I checked with the boss and it's not really an angle for the magazine I've been working for.

No one bats an eyelid at the name Bin Laden here, she said.  It's a huge family, some of them are well known to many people in Dubai.  It's really not a big deal that he's related to him.  But I can't help but think that it's pretty telling that Mr Yeslam Bin Laden is less than keen on being known by the Bin Laden name.       

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