x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

CNBC anchor says US coverage of Dubai World downturn 'simplistic'

Erin Burnett says the US media was often too "simplistic" in its coverage of Dubai World.

Erin Burnett, the business anchor at the US cable news channel CNBC, interviews Hamad Buamim, the director general of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, during her evening broadcast this month near the Dubai Mall fountain.
Erin Burnett, the business anchor at the US cable news channel CNBC, interviews Hamad Buamim, the director general of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, during her evening broadcast this month near the Dubai Mall fountain.

The US media's coverage of the financial downturn in Dubai was "simplistic", says Erin Burnett, the business anchor at the US cable news channel CNBC.

A lack of understanding of the business culture, "hyperbolic" headlines and a lack of nuance defined much of the coverage of last year's Dubai World debt standstill, Ms Burnett said on a recent trip to the UAE.

"I would say it's simplistic. There's no ill intent … Some of the headlines have been a little bit 'it's over', or 'it's not over'. And what we [at CNBC] have tried to do is provide nuance," she said.

"I think the US media tried to do a fair job. I think sometimes headlines got a little bit hyperbolic. I think that could be a fair criticism. That happened in the US media with a lot of things about the crisis. I'm sure Greece could have had a similar set of complaints … So I don't think it was Dubai-specific."

Ms Burnett, who anchors the Street Signs show and co-anchors Squawk on the Street, as well as contributing to other programmes, previously made a one-hour documentary about Dubai called City of Money and Mystery.

She was in the UAE during the Dubai World debt announcement last November to report for the TV network and during her most recent visit was working on a show about the debt issue one year on. Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar, was among the people she interviewed.

"I have spent a lot of time over the past few years getting to know people [in Dubai]. And I think that helped differentiate our coverage - that when things were happening, we were able to find out what was really happening," said Ms Burnett.

"A lot of people in the US don't really understand pretty simple things about Dubai. People think that Dubai has a lot of oil and even people who do know a lot about it don't necessarily understand who is who."

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae