Written Arabic frustrates me.
There must be some psychological reason for this.
I can't read Japanese either, of course (or Korean, or Aramaic, or god-forbid Chinese, or. . . you get the idea), but looking at those characters doesn't produce the same "This is information, but you are too stupid to recognize it" reaction. No clue why.
Disney is active in ten countries in the Middle east besides Israel. They are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia represents about 50% of the Disney market and is the biggest consumer of foreign goods between Western Europe and Souteast Asia. The United Arab Emirates is the second largest economy in the Gulf region and accounts for 20% of the Disney business. It is home to Disney's head office in Dubai, where open-door policies and free trade practices prevail.
Huge Disney presence in Saudi Arabia. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. A disturbing pattern emerges.
Update: Duh. Other reason I was thinking about Arabic is seeing several short films by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat; there's an exhibit of her work at Walker Art Center, and will be for a few more weeks.
There are several short films; a few of them are, well, Walker calls them "dual projection installations", which is a nice way of saying there are essentially two films, projected on opposite walls simultaneously. Sometimes action takes place on both at once, but mostly events on one are observed and reacted to on the other. They're short enough that you can either sit through the installation twice, or just look back and forth, without your brain exploding or your neck locking up.
The credits roll at the same time, with one set in English and the other in Arabic. That was when I noticed the irritation factor. Or maybe my neck was starting to lock up.
Update 2: Because I am a moron.
There's a very good reason to examine Shirin Neshat's work these days:
Shirin Neshat doesn't quite know where to call home. The 43-year-old artist was born and raised in Iran but moved to the U.S. after high school to study art. When the Islamic Revolution overtook her homeland in 1979, Neshat was exiled and couldn't return until 11 years later--and the country she went home to bore little resemblance to the one she left.
Neshat dealt with her sense of displacement by trying to untangle the ideology of Islam through art. The result was Women of Allah (1993-97), a photographic series of militant Muslim women that subverts the stereotype and examines the Islamic idea of martyrdom.
Unless, y'know, you're one of those "they hate us for our freedoms, and because they're EEEEEEE-VIL" types. That's not a productive attitude, and trust me, I know from unproductive attitudes. I'm not only the president, I'm also a client.
The above quote was from the already-linked intro page; this one is from the interview:
TIME: Why are people in the West so fascinated by Islam?
Neshat: It's so different from what they are. When you look at a culture that is so different, you start questioning yourself ... The way in which Islamic ideology has been growing rapidly around the Middle East is [seen as] a threat ... It's not even religion. It's like the Soviet Union, communism, which was once a threat. I think that Islam is very often dismissed because that ideology doesn't fit into the kind of rationality that the western world has.
Could try connecting this to the ever-popular dual consciousness of the American Negro, but Du Bois and Frantz Fanon elicit the same reaction as N**m Ch*sky among some folks. And epileptic seizures are so unpleasant to watch.