Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 12:43 | SYDNEY
Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 12:43 | SYDNEY

The Arab Summit: Curtains drawn for another year


Rodger Shanahan


3 April 2009 09:49

Too often long-running series tire and eventually disappoint as script writers find it difficult to maintain interesting character development, or plot lines become predictable.

I'm happy to say that the long-running soap opera that is the Arab Summit rarely suffers from this form of malaise. It has again delivered the goods to Arab watchers worldwide in a truly award-winning combination of drama, tension, new characters and old troupers putting in sterling performances.

Of course, the marketing people were hard at work before the summit, generating interest with spurious leaks about the possibility of Persians being invited to the Arab Summit, and even though this came to nought it did serve to whet viewers' appetite for the main episode.

For a stage like the Arab Summit where so many leading actors are expected to share centre stage, it is understandable that some main players find a reason not to attend. This year it was the turn of one of the doyens of summiteering Hosni Mubarak to find a reason why he could not attend the Doha gala.

One was suspicious that perhaps the organisers of the Arab Summit had hired the script writers from Big Brother to inject the 'wow' factor into this year's episode. How else to explain poor, innocent, polite Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon having to suffer the 'unexpected' entrance of arch villain Umar al-Bashir who was inserted into the Big Brother house (sorry, to the Summit) despite the existence of an ICC arrest warrant hanging over his head. Although there was no contact between the two, speeches were delivered at twenty paces as tension built.

A good series though, needs conflict that is up close and personal rather than the antiseptic boycotting or physical avoidance that are the standard tactics at these fora. Never one to disappoint, Libya's President Muammar Ghaddafi provided exactly the type of headline-grabbing stoush that the audience was waiting for. His attack on Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah was front page news, and ensured that the Saudi delegation to next year's summit to be held in Libya is likely to be a bit lighter-on than this years'.

The only downside to this enthralling episode though was the final communiqué which contained many of the regular banalities that we have become used to. Still, the Summit was united in standing up for the beleaguered Sudanese President in the face of that pesky ICC arrest warrant. The producers also remained true to the dictum to leave the audience wanting more by ensuring that the Summit finished a day early — hopefully next year's Libyan summit will be just as entertaining.