MTV's Arab Prizefight

Viacom's new channel can tiptoe around cultural issues but not around its competitors

Richard Allenby-Pratt / Arabianeye for TIME

Jordanian singer Diana Karazon being interviewed for the launch of MTV Arabia at the MTV Arabia offices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

It's just after sundown and a sweltering 104º (40ºC) at a racetrack in the middle of the desert outside Dubai, and Joseph Hobeika, 24, from Lebanon, wants to live Al Helm (The Dream). He's trying to become a race-car driver, and he's got two experts to help him: Khaled al-Mutawe, winner of the Dubai Racing Academy's 2007 cup, and Rasha al-Emam, the Saudi production director for MTV and a race-car driver herself. Hobeika struggles and at one point admits, "I spent seven years at university, and I can't find a job. I just want to achieve something and impress everyone."

This...

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