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British journalist: T E Lawrence more than just a Middle East explorer

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Image source: theguardian.com

New Delhi: British journalist and author Anthony Sattin talks about the legacy of T E Lawrence, who understood the Middle Eastern region and its functioning in relation to tribe, ethnicities and religion. With the Middle East in turmoil and much of the blame being put on the post-World War I settlement imposed by western powers, Lawrence’s’ study works became all the more significant now.

“If Lawrence came back today, he would most likely say ‘Told you so’, with regard to the viability of the series of the independent Arab states, all ruled by the Hashemites (notably Iraq), whom the British backed.”

“It is a tragedy that Western political and military leaders have not understood, as Lawrence did, the delicate patchwork between tribe, ethnicities and religion in the region,” Sattin, whose main focus is the Middle East and Africa and has extensively traveled and written on the region, told reporters in an interview.

The author of ‘Young Lawrence: A Portrait of the Legend as a Young Man‘ (2014), which seeks to trace Lawrence’s pre-war life and the influences that instilled in him a rare understanding of the region, says he wrote the book to deal with the perceptions fostered by David Lean’s 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia”.

“For one, the film shows Lawrence as tall since Peter O’ Toole who played him was… but the real Lawrence was quite short.

“Then, according to the film, it seems that Lawrence came to the Middle East during the First World War and jumped into participating in the Arab revolt, (but) he first visited the region in 1909 and spent the period of 1910-14 as an archaeologist in (then Ottoman) Syria,” said Sattin, who was in India to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Though Lawrence (1888-1935) wrote much about his own life and activities, he did not dwell on his early years in them and it is believed that the first version of his “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, which we now know as his masterly account of the Arab revolt, dealt with this but was reportedly destroyed by him in 1914.

“Even Jeremy Wilson, who is considered to have written the definitive biography (‘Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence‘, 1989) has not focussed on it… one part of his life is not covered and Lawrence has become an image.”

“I have tried to make a real person… give him complexity,” says Sattin, whose work focusses on Lawrence’s birth (out of wedlock), his difficult relationship with dominating mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, his extraordinary journeys in the Middle East, and why he became an archaeologist and a spy.

On this Arab boy, Selim Ahmed alias “Dahoum” or the dark one, who was a water boy at the site but Lawrence made him his assistant, he says it was clear that Lawrence was in love with him, but dismisses it was a sexual relationship, as many have claimed.

“It was like (ancient) Greek love of an older man for a younger boy. I don’t think that it was sexual though many like (renowned archaeologist) Leonard Woolley who also worked at the site, cited a naked sculpture that Lawrence did and claimed it was modelled on Dahoum and had outraged the local people” he said.

Despite Lawrence writing about homosexuality in “Seven Pillars..”, Sattin holds Lawrence himself was not one. “He was pretty sexless…thought sex to be disgusting.”

On the current regional situation, Sattin says he has traveled recently through Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Iran and Turkey, and found “great despair, corruption, oppression and lack of vision in policy”, but before the Arab Spring, there was hopelessness and “there is now some hope, even with the counter-revolutions and civil war”.

Though leaders like Turkey’s Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have made it difficult to protest, “steam was building up” and it would be difficult to contain until the economies build up, he said, but added he was hopeful that things can turn around. (Vikas Datta, IANS)

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The Advantages of The Taxation Regimes in The Middle East

So, if you want to operate in the Middle East, setting up a business in Qatar can prove to be quite advantageous

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Taxation, Regimes, Middle East
Most Middle Eastern countries offer a low-tax regime, while others, such as Qatar, impose no corporate or personal income taxes. Pixabay

The Middle East, which until recently was sought mostly by investors in the oil and gas field, has become a very attractive destination for entrepreneurs seeking to operate in other industries as well and one of the most appealing aspects of starting a business here is the taxation system.

Most Middle Eastern countries offer a low-tax regime, while others, such as Qatar, impose no corporate or personal income taxes. So, if you want to operate in the Middle East, setting up a business in Qatar can prove to be quite advantageous.

Below, you can read about other advantages offered by Middle Eastern countries in terms of taxation.

Middle Eastern countries allow for free repatriation of profits

Taxation, Regimes, Middle East
The Middle East, which until recently was sought mostly by investors in the oil and gas field, has become a very attractive destination for entrepreneurs. Pixabay

Most countries in the Middle East provide for the free repatriation of profits earned by companies operating here. This is also the case of the UAE in which foreign investors can set up various types of companies. For example, starting a business in Dubai can mean free repatriation of profits if the owners are foreigners.

Most countries do not impose employment-related taxes

One of the struggles of business owners is to pay various employment-related taxes, contributions and insurances. This is not the case of many countries in the Middle East where there are no such taxes or where employment is taxed at very low rates. When combined with a cheaper workforce compared to European countries, states here will definitely become more attractive to investors from all over the world.

Wide networks of double tax treaties

Also Read- The Main Benefits of Opening a Company in A Foreign Country

Even if they impose a few or no taxes, many Middle Eastern states have signed double taxation agreements in order to help foreign business owners reduce the tax burden in their home countries. Also, when considering that these agreements follow the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development models on the disclosure of financial information, these countries become more appealing for those interested in onshore destinations with low corporate taxes.

Low VAT taxes

One of the recently introduced taxes by countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council is the value added tax. However, this tax is imposed at very low rates and many investors with companies here have obtained the support of governments in implementing the new regulations which provides for how quickly Middle Eastern countries can adapt to changes.

The Middle East is one of the most appealing parts of the world when it comes to taxation, however, it offers many other benefits apart from this aspect. The cheap workforce, the modern legislation and economic stability are also some of the reasons why foreign investors choose countries here for setting up businesses.