Monday, January 27, 2014

Pan-Arabia Enquirer and the art of satire

If recent events are any indication, peddling satire in the UAE can be risky. So it was with more than a little skepticism that I took the news of a commissioned Pan-Arabia Enquirer exhibition at DUCTAC's Gallery of Light. But it turns out that this was, oddly enough, not just a big joke.

Fans of the publication know that PAE offers as much insight into the inscrutable idiosyncrasies of life in the Middle East as it does oft-missed satirical humor. A couple of prints are claimed to be early versions, from back when it was apparently called the Dubai Enquirer. Given PAE's premise, I really don't know how seriously I should be taking the descriptions of these. Suffice to say, though, that things have clearly improved since then, although there are still too many easy giveaways for my liking.

Highlights include select spoof ads (I love the job postings), and those facepalm-triggering letters that occasionally become as legendary as the articles themselves.

Print is not all there is to see; you can glance enviously at the VIP area while you wait in queue. A few manufactured artifacts, the articles relevant to some of which I recognize, are also displayed in glass cases.

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