Americans have the opportunity to get a rare glimpse of life in the United Arab Emirates this weekend when veteran TV host Armstrong Williams airs a show taped in the Middle Eastern country.
The program will be broadcast on stations nationwide in 171 markets Jan. 5-6. Williams visited Dubai in December for the televised town hall meeting—one of the first times Americans have been invited to produce such a program in the country.
“They said it’s the first time that an American camera crew has been allowed in there,” Williams said. “I was shocked, I had no idea.”
Williams, who hosts “The Armstrong Williams Show” weekly from the WJLA studios in Arlington, Virginia, said the trip came about after an October meeting. One of the meeting attendees invited Williams to Dubai. He’s made 14 trips to Israel but never visited an Arab country.
“They felt my broadcasting was unfair and biased, and maybe it was because no one had ever extended an invitation to me to come and visit the Arab world firsthand,” Williams told The Daily Signal. “And I said, ‘I am biased, it’s true. I’m biased toward Israel.’”
Still, Williams decided it would be a worthwhile endeavor to see life in another Middle Eastern country.
To maintain journalistic standards, Williams insisted on handling the arrangements and determining who would appear on the TV program. He said it was particularly important to have a female perspective and to talk about Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian who was murdered in Turkey.
When it airs this weekend, the TV program will feature a discussion of faith’s influence on the lifestyle in the UAE, what attracts people to Dubai, family values and traditions in the UAE, and the culture of tolerance and openness.
“During the town hall meeting, which was an hour, I asked tough questions about women and I asked tough questions about their attitude toward alternative lifestyles,” Williams said.
Guests on the program include Khalaf Al Habtoor, founding chairman of the Al Habtoor Group; Nada Mourtada, secretary general of the University Leadership Consortium; Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an author and professor of political science; Faisal Jalal, editor-in-chief of Arab News; Habib Al Mulla, chairman, Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla; and Issa Al Bastaki, president of the University of Dubai.
While on the trip, Williams interviewed former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, a resident of Dubai who rarely speaks to the media.
Williams said the weeklong visit gave him a new understanding of the Arab world.
“The biggest disappointment is that very few Americans visit Dubai,” he said. “You see the blessing of the economy, the blessing of the people, how they’re blessed as a result of their moral striving.”