Letter from the Editor

Bazaar: a theme so nice, we used it twice.

Last time out, we delved into the business of the art world, a somewhat aerified realm, with its auctions and parties and oh-so-critical discourse. This time we wanted to get our hands dirtier. Mucky, even. So one thing we did was seek out the details — good, bad, and gory — of how work works. What the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is doing for beauty salons in America. How the protests in Thailand have affected red-dye manufacturers in Karachi. Why the Iraq War has been a bonanza for health clubs in occupied Baghdad.

The whole BAZAAR business originated on a trip to Dubai, the Las Vegas of the Middle East. Or rather, a trip to the Las Vegas of the Las Vegas of the Middle East. At the Indian mall in the down-market Karama district, the prime real estate belongs to Las Vegas Fashion LLC, a clothing store whose windows are lined with bedoo-rag’d mannequins in b-boy poses.

Fittingly, Adham Alshorafa, the man behind Las Vegas, is the subject of one of the fourteen profiles, interviews, and as-told-to accounts that comprise our portfolio, How’s Business — along with a Chinese language instructor in Cairo, a recycler in Bangalore, a defense contractor in Kandahar, and many more stories from the annals of globalization.

The globe itself is the canvas for Simon Anholt, the reluctant magician of nation branding. In Your Brand Is My Brand, Babak Radboy considers the feedback loop that powers the multimillion dollar business of national identity. Bonus: a ragtag team of amateur nation branders examine brands from across the Bidounosphere, asking the age-old question, “Is that an atom hovering over the I in Israel?”

In the Magazine Bazaar, we discuss the business and pleasure of being a niche magazine, with a quartet of trade publications servicing mercenaries, utility contractors, haunted house owners, and disgruntled artists.

When we first considered doing something on up-and-coming Iranian rock band Hypernova, our interest was in their media celebrity. But what we had envisioned as a tale of political opportunism and ethnic marketing took an unexpected turn when we discovered that the old countercultural dream of rock and roll was actually alive and well and living underground, in the Iranian rock scene from whence Hypernova exploded. Our interview with the band begins on page 42.

Plus: Binyavanga Wainaina on becoming spam. Fatima Al Qadiri on ill-gotten goods. Gary Dauphin on the prehistory of infotainment. Kaelen Wilson-Goldie on the enigmatic art of Mohamed Soueid. The wit and wisdom of the 1982 Kuwait stock market crash. And so on.