Works Tinder in Dubai

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

In a time of decline, wars and extremism, the Sheikh from Dubai paints a picture of a better Arabia. On Instagram, Prince Hamdan shows his ideal world, which every Arab would like to live in: He plays with his nephew Mohammed on the beach, sometimes he goes falconry with his family, cuddles with baby tigers, holds newborn foals in his arms or he lugs at competitions tough men concrete blocks.

The man with the long name, Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Raschid al Maktum, is 33, single and Crown Prince of Dubai. With more than 1,500 photos, he hit a nerve: 3.5 million Internet users have already subscribed to his picture show. That is more than twice as many as the British royals William, Kate and Harry with their platform Kensingtonroyal. And of all the political decision-makers in the world, only US President Barack Obama has more subscribers. "Every picture has a story and every story contains a moment that I would like to share with you," shares Hamdan under the Instagram name faz3 With.

The sheikh shows himself to be a representative of a new generation of wealthy Arabs who avoid scandals and return to Islamic values. He stands out from the other spoiled king and dictator children from the region, who attract attention through brawls, sex orgies or drug parties. In his Instagram world, he mainly devotes himself to those leisure activities that are expressly permitted according to Islamic doctrine: family, horse riding and water sports.

"I am your tribune close to the people"

In this way, he makes himself the ideal for young Arabs who are looking for new role models in a region shaken by crises and conflicts, and striving for their own Arab identity. It is a staging that should appear credible.

"With his pictures he shows how approachable he is, that he is not five levels above the people," says the Hamburg political advisor and expert on social media, Martin Fuchs. "This is a kind of branding and should make it clear: I am your tribune that is close to the people."

What is known about the prince is only what he reveals about himself. That his childhood was peaceful and in an environment in which he was allowed to grasp the "true meaning of life", as he writes on a website. That after graduating from school in Dubai he was trained at the Royal British Sandhurst Military Academy, where he learned "discipline and punctuality". That he sees his father as a role model and his views as "stars that show me the way".

Criticism of the ruling house undesirable

As long as Sheikh Hamdan stays in his homeland, it will be easy for him to maintain this image. Because while the British "Yellow Press" follows every step of the Royals William, Harry and Kate, there is de facto no freedom of the press in the Emirates on the Gulf. Critical journalists can speak of luck if they are only deported - they could also end up in jail. The red line is the criticism of the government - to which Hamdan as crown prince also belongs. On the list of press freedom of "Reporters Without Borders" the Emirates are in 120th place out of a total of 180 countries.

But there was also a black sheep in the ruling family of Dubai: Hamdan's older brother. Sheikh Raschid was considered a playboy with a drug problem. He died last year, just 33 years old. Official cause of death: heart attack.

Hamdan, on the other hand, never gave rise to gossip. Even when Dubai made negative headlines - for example because of a near bankruptcy or because domestic workers are treated like slaves - the crown prince only made it onto Forbes magazine's list of "hottest young royals". Only after the death of his brother Rasheed did many media reports about the grieving younger son of the emir Hamdan. The sensitive sheikh, who also practices as a poet under the name of Fazza, had written a poem about tears and loss. The Bedouin-style verses entitled "My brother, the word" were shared on social media along with photos of the dissimilar brothers.

Victory, triumph and love

In the Emirati dialect, Fazza stands for a person who stands by others. Women especially love him. Under pseudonyms like aichafarah82, houroflove or annamariafoxyfox Comment on his pictures on Instagram in Arabic, Turkish, French, Spanish or English, but above all with a lot of hearts. But women hardly ever appear in the photos. Not parties with alcohol anyway.

Occasionally, the Crown Prince raises his hand in a three-finger greeting by only holding the thumb, index and middle fingers outstretched. It is a greeting that his father, Emir Mohammed bin Raschid al-Maktum, invented three years ago. The West used two fingers for the victory sign. The V stands for Victory, the ruler explained in a hall in front of hundreds of listeners. The new greeting, on the other hand, stands for three things: victory, triumph and love. In future he only wanted to use this symbol, Dubai's emir called to his applauding audience and emphasized: "We Arabs have a rich history of our own. So why follow the others?"

Mey Dudin

© Qantara.de 2016