Rupert Murdoch makes friends everywhere he goes (having lots of money helps). His recent speech in Abu Dhabi urged more transparency in the Middle East (a worthy goal) but clearly many in the region are rightly worried about his real agenda:
The tie-up between Arab entertainment giant Rotana and pro-Israel media mogul Rupert Murdoch is viewed in Egypt not only with suspicion but as signalling the decline of Arab film and art heritage.
In a country where film and television attract some of the largest audiences across the Arab world, the tycoon’s foray into the Middle East is widely seen in cultural circles as a ruse to benefit Israel.
Murdoch’s News Corp last month acquired a 9.09-percent holding in the Rotana Group of Saudi royal and business tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, with an 18-month option to double the stake.
Rotana is one of the largest film producers in Egypt and also owns the rights to hundreds of Egyptian motion pictures.
In Egypt, which signed a 1979 peace treaty with Israel but has resisted a warming of cultural ties, there has been wide suspicion that the tie-up with Rotana is part of a Murdoch scheme to thaw frosty Arab views of Israel.
“Murdoch will enter every Arab home to impose normalisation” of ties with Israel, said Egyptian film critic Ola al-Shafei.
The partnership amounts to “a defeat for the Arab film and art heritage,” she added.
Scriptwriter Osama Anwar Okasha wrote that Murdoch’s stake in Rotana was a “Trojan horse” designed to stealthily penetrate Arab culture.