Thursday, 24 November 2011

Permission To Print

Olives from Croatia
Image via Wikipedia
It always reminds me of the Black Adder sketch in which George is requesting 'Permission to speak' with increasing desperation, said permission denied by the wily Blackadder.

Permission to print is something I bet few writers have to seek on their road to publication. Here in the UAE, it's a must-have - no printing press here will touch a book that doesn't have a Permission, much as no garage will touch a crash repair without a police report.

The permission is granted by the National Media Council, which has to read the work. I was extraordinarily lucky in that the gentleman who manages the English language section of the Media Control Department was very struck with Olives - A Violent Romance and actually went off leave to go into the office and sign off the MS and grant me that all-important go-ahead. It's taken until now for the news to trickle up the Abu Dhabi highway to the NMC offices in Dubai so today I went off to pick up my Permission.

There's a fee of Dhs25 to pay, which I slid onto the desk of the Relevant Person. 'Ah, no, you have to have e-dirham.'

You're kidding me. For Dhs25? Oh yes, she said, handing me a gnarly-looking form with all sorts of requirements, labour cards, passport copies, authorisations, countersignatures by authorised persons. Worse, you have to go all the way to the Ministry of Finance in Bur Dubai to apply in person. For a Dhs25 fee? Yes, this is mandatory.

I left the NMC after vain protests, my head in a spin. I looked at the e-dirham website and found there was an easier way - you can pick up a pre-paid e-dirham card at any branch of a number of banks! Yippee!

A number of banks later, I realise this is total bunkum - the banks at the immigration department have these cards, one chap told me. Sure enough, they did. I dashed back to the NMC all eager and happy. They were having a reception for their colleagues from Abu Dhabi and the place was filled with plates of food and oudh was being burned - so much it set the fire alarms off.

Despite the carnival atmosphere, my own little firework display was to suffer the fate of micturation. She wouldn't take the e-dirham card. 'Only this card from Ministry of Finance I can take.' But it's the same card, look, e-dirham, it's precisely the same card, it just has a different picture and doesn't have my photo. 'No.'

That's when I lost it. I'd printed out two 280-page manuscripts and given them to her, I'd printed a third and sent it to Abu Dhabi, I'd been back and forth to the NMC and the Ministry of Youth and Culture. And now, at the end of it all, I was being made to jump through even more hoops for Dhs25!!! I asked for the mudhir. But he, of course, was closeted in a meeting room with the guests from Abu Dhabi. My gatekeeper managed to mask a look of triumph, but I knew it was there anyway. I left in a high old temper and dragged my way down to the Ministry of Finance.

Who were wonderful. Friendly, smiling and bright, young Buthaina had me sorted out in a few minutes, even transferring the balance from the pre-paid card I'd bought to my new photo ID card. It all certainly lightened the old mood as I set off once again to the NMC, my new e-dirham card sparkling in my pocket.

The long and the short of it all is that I have my Permission to Print in my sticky little fingers. So now I'm going to do just that: print Olives!

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Amanius Caffeinatus Irritabilus said...

Congratulations! .... I want my signed copy *lowers voice*

Mich said...

Yeyyyy... Mabrouk. I now look forward to buying the print copy and getting it signed! :-))

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