What a charade in Dubai
Money was doubtless the reason for franchising the BBC Proms to the oil-rich but ethically-challenged emirate of Dubai. However just one of many concerns about classical music's endorsement of the United Arab Emirates is the regime's overt homophobia, which makes demonised Russia look distinctly gay-friendly. As stated by UAE lawyer and government spokesperson Dr. Habib al-Mulla: "This is a conservative society. Homosexuality, conducted homosexuality is an illegal act*. And we are not ashamed of that”. Presumably BBC Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny, who has publicly expressed support for LGBT+ causes and who travelled without demur to Dubai to present the franchised Proms, and BBC Proms controller Alan Davey who is also aligned with the LGBT+ community, are both well aware of the UAE's stance on homosexuality. But in classical music today money speaks louder words, and the Gulf media's critical appreciation of western classical music was clearly not the reason why Dubai was favoured with a Proms franchise; as this extract from the review of the first concert by the UAE's leading English language newspaper The National shows, :
In residence is the renowned BBC Symphony Orchestra which — under the baton of distinguished Proms veteran Edward Gardner — gave over the evening’s second half to William Walton’s Symphony No. 1, a formulaic assault of pomp, grandeur and cliché which, premiered in 1935, chimed a wantonly oblivious note of pride from an empire on the slow march towards collapse.* Article 177 of the Penal Code of Dubai imposes imprisonment of up to 10 years on consensual sodomy. Before the twitterati complain about negative caricaturing of Emiratis I would point out that the serendipitous header cartoon depicts William Walton with Edith Sitwell in drag and is sampled from a YouTube video of Walton's Facade. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.