My Mideast Punchlines: what’s in a name?

A plan hatched by Arab allies to destabilise the small but wealthy desert state of Qatar with a putative blockade has backfired, triggering a personality cult around the country’s 33-year-old emir.

The stand-off between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, on the one hand, and one of the world’s richest countries is now well into its second month with little sign of compromise.

The quartet accuse Qatar of funding Sunni extremists and appear to hope that by cutting off the Doha from its neighbours they might topple the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. However, rather than weaken Sheikh Tamim domestically, the five-week dispute has forged a cult around him.

Rather than get involved in this argument personally, I’d like to point out that Hebrew and Arabic are Semitic languages with many similarities and differences. Although the following is probably a totally useless piece of information, Tamim in Arabic means strong and complete, while in Hebrew it means naive. You pays yer money and yer takes yer choice, but one thing’s for sure: at present, the citizens of Qatar tend to favour the Arabic meaning of the emir’s name.


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