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Re: [RC] Possible strategy for dealing with sticky moral issues - John Bass

*This message was scanned for all current viruses and is certified clean*

 When you say it's bullshit I hope people will take you for your word.

 The UAE is using the proper bait, $$$$, to reel in their fish. They have
sunk the hook. The stronger fish will be able to break the line, the weaker
fish are going to get gutted.


 ----- Original Message -----
 From: "Maryanne Stroud Gabbani" <msgabbani@xxxxxxx>
 To: "Ridecamp" <ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
 Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 7:25 AM
 Subject: [RC] Possible strategy for dealing with sticky moral issues

 > *This message was scanned for all current viruses and is certified
 > I've been thinking a lot about this whole issue of boycott/not boycott
 > rather a lot. Reading all the emails on both sides. I guess that I
 > reached a sort of critical mass last night because this morning I found
 > that I could write my thoughts. That's not to say that they are utterly
 > clear. I think that I can really appreciate Kat's view that she would
 > hope that she could turn down the invitation if she got one.  You can
 > ponder them and see if they make sense, but in the end I am an
 > outsider. No one has or ever will invite me to participate in the WEC.
 > This may be a bit long and not the best organised so bear with me.
 > I faced a lot of the same issues that you are facing when I realised
 > what the intentions of the UAE were for the 120 km race held in May
 > 2000. I had been hired by the Jockey Club of Egypt to manage the race
 > and I took my mandate to be the protection of horses and riders in a
 > possibly hazardous situation. The Jockey Club wanted the money that
 > Maktoum was making available for the race and the support for the flat
 > racing afterwards. Within 24 hours of the arrival of our technical
 > delegate I realised that the UAE had no intention of running an honest
 > race. The base camp recommendation was vetoed as being not scenic and
 > posh enough. The track was declared "hazardous", that is to say not
 > flat and not close enough to the pyramids for the grand photos of the
 > sheikhs riding past. We spent a week driving around the desert and
 > villages of the area looking for a "suitable" track while Feisal
 > Seddiq's bodyguards threw 10LE notes out of the car windows to watch
 > the children fight over them. Sweet.
 > The final track was arranged by paying the Antiquities Council to allow
 > cars and horses to travel within 100 metres of the pyramids, water
 > stops were set up without regard to the fact that choices often
 > included spots that were too close to villages and often on the village
 > football pitches.  The boys play soccer in the desert every Friday, the
 > day of the race.  The flags were put out at 2 am the day of the race so
 > there  were no maps available and no proper briefing.  As Ride Manager
 > I had no idea where the riders were going. My numerous volunteers were
 > assigned to positions that would ensure they saw almost nothing and
 > could learn almost nothing or they weren't assigned at all. A planeload
 > of clueless Emiratis were flown in to ensure the "proper" reports. I
 > sent people out anyway even though we really had no idea where they
 > were going. I could go on forever about that week and the day of the
 > race. It was like being thrown into a tank of sharks to learn to swim.
 > After all, everything I knew about endurance I'd learned on Ridecamp.
 > I'd never seen a race, but someone had to get out there and do
 > something for our people. I worked harder than I've ever worked in my
 > life, got into serious fights with security forces who wanted to roust
 > the visiting horses and grooms for a bomb search at 3 am (I refused
 > flatly and they went away), threw a water bottle at a general who
 > refused to understand that I had women, children and retirees standing
 > out in the sun in spots chosen by the UAE and being threatened by
 > justly angry village youths with rocks, sticks and in some cases
 > knives. When I think about it now, it was crazy. But the UAE didn't
 > realise that I was the wife of a seriously important Egyptian who was,
 > in her own way, untouchable and that I DIDN'T WANT ANYTHING FROM THEM.
 > There is the key. Once you want something, anything, from someone they
 > have power over you. Very zen but it works. I still have a good
 > relationship with the staff who work for Maktoum. I got a lot of
 > respect from them, a lot of support and encouragement and came to
 > understand a lot. I realise that they are in the power of their
 > employers and I understand duress.
 > I caused a massive amount of hassle for the UAE because I didn't give a
 > damn about them. I didn't go home before the race, saying that they
 > weren't playing fair. I warned them that I was difficult, I stuck it
 > out, worked my job, and then very publicly criticised them on points of
 > fact. Absolutely drove them nuts and the races here have become
 > saner...if UAE endurance is ever sane, which I don't believe that it
 > can be.  At the end of the race, I insisted that our vet students be
 > paid for their time and work. Feisal Seddiq paid each one USD 100,
 > which was a nice amount for the kids. He gave me 300 USD and while he
 > was still there, I gave it to some of the workers saying that I didn't
 > need it since I spent more than that on a pair of shoes. (A lie, by the
 > way. Maybe riding boots if I found the right ones. <G>) I made sure
 > that I didn't keep anything at all from them. That way no one could say
 > that I was pissed off that I didn't get anything, but everyone knew
 > that I gave it away.
 > I think that people should go to the WEC if they want to, but on the
 > other hand I don't think that the issues should be allowed to die. I
 > think that you all should work at spreading the word  to other riders
 > from other countries. I think that whoever goes should thank their
 > hosts for a good time and donate any gifts or prize money to a charity,
 > preferably one dealing with the camel boys. These people should be used
 > the same way that they have been using American, Australian, German,
 > and even Egyptian riders since day one.  And make it clear that is what
 > is happening. There are riders who won't go along with the strategy,
 > but it is the one that will hurt the most.
 > One of the things that has bothered me the most about the US
 > involvement in endurance in the UAE is the fact that Dubai have stage
 > managed the events so that everyone has come home oooing and aahing
 > about how generous, friendly, blah, blah, blah Maktoum is. It's
 > bullshit. They are giving up something that means nothing to
 > them...money. And they think that they are buying friendship and
 > respect, but are they giving that? No. US riders would be horrified to
 > be able to understand what is said about them behind their backs. There
 > is no respect coming back. You are all tools. Mohamed Maktoum is not
 > friendly, kind, or any of those things. He's the damn Minister of
 > Defense. The UAE believes that everyone but themselves can be bought,
 > and so far not too many people have proven them wrong. Frankly if the
 > UAE weren't paying the tab for this, how many riders would go to the
 > trouble of getting their horses all the way to Dubai? And without all
 > those riders how empty would a UAE victory in the WEC seem?
 > When I have to deal with the UAE, and I still do show up at the big
 > races here often as the guide for press coverage, I treat everyone with
 > the utmost of civiltiy as is due any human being, but I make damn sure
 > that the reporters I am guiding get a clear and unbaissed look at the
 > race. I am treated, in return, with respect and a certain amount of
 > fear by those who are fiddling the results. The real people, the vets
 > and those I know well on the technical staff rather enjoy my presence
 > because it ensures that people are around to blow whistles without them
 > having to do it.
 > I think that riders who choose to travel should be encouraged to go
 > with their eyes wide open and all the rose-coloured glasses left at
 > home. This is a fantastic opportunity to travel and see a part of the
 > world that they might otherwise never see. Don't work too hard to win.
 > It isn't worth it and doesn't really mean much. You won't likely win
 > anyway, for reasons that I could go into another time.  But go. See the
 > good, the bad, and the ugly. Ask questions. Get involved in
 > discussions. Watch what goes on and see how it works rather than being
 > awed by the bells and whistles.  All this electronic hooha has a lot of
 > of ways to fiddle it. LEARN, LEARN, LEARN.  If riders choose to USE
 > this opportunity to learn more about the UAE, then by all means they
 > should USE it.
 > As the Prophet said, seek knowledge even unto China.
 > Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
 > Cairo, Egypt
 > http://www.alsorat.com
 > http://miloflamingo.blogspot.com
 > http://homepage.mac.com/msgabbani
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[RC] Possible strategy for dealing with sticky moral issues, Maryanne Stroud Gabbani