In defence of grand theory

As the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico haemorrhages the refuse of industry into the water, infecting the environment and strangling the oxygen of aquatic life, we hear the echoes of the slogan "drill baby, drill". Now I love metaphor, and reading meaning into the physical environment is part of the synthesis of form and content. Inference is the sole purview of the rational animal.

The current environmental disaster alludes to some interesting readings into the crisis of the contemporary intellectual landscape. For the past 50 years the emphasis of intellectual work has been to purposely move away from anything that smacked of a grand scheme. Correct thinking had to be intensely specific, intensely local. It would be governed by context and never accused of generalising. In its narrowness and specificity it was akin to drilling down to the very particular details of one specific case.

This 'mode' of thinking and analysis is important. A person's actual situation is never decontextualised. We have to account for that. But the contention is that something is lost here. Specifically what is lost is one's global positioning on the map of a bigger picture. Without recourse to a holistic cartography a person cannot make sense of trajectories as the flux of their existence causes positions to evolve and change.

The resulting scatteredness and atomisation of being leads to a type of narrowness and a myopia of sorts. Self is lost, identity is lost, the forest, as an environment, as a larger context, can no longer be seen. But when I say identity here, I mean ontological identity. It is a structure much deeper than the superficial identity politics of swappable labels; for example, citizen/immigrant, black/white, Labour/Conservative.

But to what degree is this merely the reverberations of post-structuralism and its penchant for surfaces and allergy to centres, and not a reflection of the individualistic direction of the past 100 or so years? Radical specificity causes us to be disconnected, insensitive and fragmented. It causes us to be heedless of the impact of our actions and ideas on the greater "environments" that we occupy and share. Our vantage point becomes narrow. To correct this minor glitch a fix, called relativism, is applied. The problem is that once relativism is activated, the lights go out, value is lost and we're all moving about in the dark with a feigned air of confidence.

This confidence however, belies the frightened confusion that somewhere in this dark room to which we have subjected ourselves lays the edge of the abyss of nihilism. While the Quran, in haunting intonations, warns "and do not toss yourselves, by your own hands, into destruction." A superior corrective would be one that joins between these two extremes, recognising the value in each. The need for a map presupposes the mastery of cartography. Case-specific analysis ensures that one's map is in 360-degree relief. Dr Recep Senturk, of the Istanbul Foundation for Research and Education (ISAR), proposes that Islamic 'fiqh' provides the foundations of an alternative social science because of the priority that both fields give to the analysis of human action.

But the system cannot be complete without recognition of a spectrum of universal principles that spans the continuum of time and space, allowing the ability to calibrate "global positioning". Once the holism of the system is in place, and one possesses the astrolabe and sextant to read this canopy operating above, we are then enabled to chart a course. Jihad Hashim Brown is director of research at the Tabah Foundation. He delivers the Friday sermon at the Maryam bint Sultan Mosque in Abu Dhabi.


Main card

Robert Whittaker defeated Ikram Aliskerov via knockout (Round 1)
Alexander Volkov def Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision
Kelvin Gastelum def Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision
Shara Magomedov def Antonio Trocoli via knockout (Round 3)
Light heavyweight:
Volkan Oezdemir def Johnny Walker via knockout (Round 1)
Preliminary Card

Nasrat Haqparast def Jared Gordon via split decision
Felipe Lima def Muhammad Naimov via submission (Round 3)
Rinat Fakhretdinov defeats Nicolas Dalby via split decision
Muin Gafurov def Kang Kyung-ho via unanimous decision
Light heavyweight:
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision
Chang Ho Lee def Xiao Long via split decision


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★


6.30pm: Handicap (rated 95-108) US$125,000 2000m (Dirt).
Winner: Don’t Give Up, Gerald Mosse (jockey), Saeed bin Suroor (trainer).

7.05pm: Handicap (95+) $160,000 2810m (Turf).
Winner: Los Barbados, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass.

7.40pm: Handicap (80-89) $60,000 1600m (D).
Winner: Claim The Roses, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer.

8.15pm: UAE 2000 Guineas Trial (Div-1) Conditions $100,000 1,400m (D)
Winner: Gold Town, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

8.50pm: Cape Verdi Group 2 $200,000 1600m (T).
Winner: Promising Run, Patrick Cosgrave, Saeed bin Suroor.

9.25pm: UAE 2000 Guineas Conditions $100,000 1,400m (D).
Winner: El Chapo, Luke Morris, Fawzi Nass.

Bib Gourmand restaurants

Al Khayma
Bait Maryam
Brasserie Boulud
Ibn AlBahr
Indya by Vineet
Orfali Bros
Reif Japanese Kushiyaki


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


5pm: Rated Conditions (PA) Dh85,000 (Turf) 1,600m
Winner: AF Mouthirah, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)

5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Alajaj, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Hawafez, Connor Beasley, Abubakar Daud

6.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Tair, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Wakeel W’Rsan, Richard Mullen, Jaci Wickham

7.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m
Winner: Son Of Normandy, Fernando Jara, Ahmad bin Harmash

Who are the Sacklers?

The Sackler family is a transatlantic dynasty that owns Purdue Pharma, which manufactures and markets OxyContin, one of the drugs at the centre of America's opioids crisis. The family is well known for their generous philanthropy towards the world's top cultural institutions, including Guggenheim Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate in Britain, Yale University and the Serpentine Gallery, to name a few. Two branches of the family control Purdue Pharma.

Isaac Sackler and Sophie Greenberg were Jewish immigrants who arrived in New York before the First World War. They had three sons. The first, Arthur, died before OxyContin was invented. The second, Mortimer, who died aged 93 in 2010, was a former chief executive of Purdue Pharma. The third, Raymond, died aged 97 in 2017 and was also a former chief executive of Purdue Pharma. 

It was Arthur, a psychiatrist and pharmaceutical marketeer, who started the family business dynasty. He and his brothers bought a small company called Purdue Frederick; among their first products were laxatives and prescription earwax remover.

Arthur's branch of the family has not been involved in Purdue for many years and his daughter, Elizabeth, has spoken out against it, saying the company's role in America's drugs crisis is "morally abhorrent".

The lawsuits that were brought by the attorneys general of New York and Massachussetts named eight Sacklers. This includes Kathe, Mortimer, Richard, Jonathan and Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, who are all the children of either Mortimer or Raymond. Then there's Theresa Sackler, who is Mortimer senior's widow; Beverly, Raymond's widow; and David Sackler, Raymond's grandson.

Members of the Sackler family are rarely seen in public.


Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

Rating: 1.5/5


Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

The specs: 2019 Lincoln MKC

Price, base / as tested: Dh169,995 / Dh192,045

Engine: Turbocharged, 2.0-litre, in-line four-cylinder

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 253hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 389Nm @ 2,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 10.7L / 100km


Company name: SimpliFi

Started: August 2021

Founder: Ali Sattar

Based: UAE

Industry: Finance, technology

Investors: 4DX, Rally Cap, Raed, Global Founders, Sukna and individuals


Premier League

Wednesday, June 17 (Kick-offs uae times) Aston Villa v Sheffield United 9pm; Manchester City v Arsenal 11pm 

Friday, June 19 Norwich v Southampton 9pm; Tottenham v Manchester United 11pm  

Saturday, June 20 Watford v Leicester 3.30pm; Brighton v Arsenal 6pm; West Ham v Wolves 8.30pm; Bournemouth v Crystal Palace 10.45pm 

Sunday, June 21 Newcastle v Sheffield United 2pm; Aston Villa v Chelsea 7.30pm; Everton v Liverpool 10pm 

Monday, June 22 Manchester City v Burnley 11pm (Sky)

Tuesday, June 23 Southampton v Arsenal 9pm; Tottenham v West Ham 11.15pm 

Wednesday, June 24 Manchester United v Sheffield United 9pm; Newcastle v Aston Villa 9pm; Norwich v Everton 9pm; Liverpool v Crystal Palace 11.15pm

Thursday, June 25 Burnley v Watford 9pm; Leicester v Brighton 9pm; Chelsea v Manchester City 11.15pm; Wolves v Bournemouth 11.15pm

Sunday June 28 Aston Villa vs Wolves 3pm; Watford vs Southampton 7.30pm 

Monday June 29 Crystal Palace vs Burnley 11pm

Tuesday June 30 Brighton vs Manchester United 9pm; Sheffield United vs Tottenham 11.15pm 

Wednesday July 1 Bournemouth vs Newcastle 9pm; Everton vs Leicester 9pm; West Ham vs Chelsea 11.15pm

Thursday July 2 Arsenal vs Norwich 9pm; Manchester City vs Liverpool 11.15pm


Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now


Deadpool 2

Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars

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