The following response was received from Caline Malek 11:24pm Monday evening, on the DM of the ahlanwasahlan.org Twitter account. Note that I did not mention her name in the article, and did Arab News the courtesy of running this response from her by them first via feedback@arabnews.com but it's been 48 hours and they did not get back to me.

Dear Safi,

Before I respond to your message, I will be addressing the notes you published on Medium, which came to my attention this morning.

You started off by saying “if you think I like to do this, think again”, which already tells me that there is much conflict (and attention-seeking) going on from your side.

Secondly, I would just like to say that I usually do not answer aggressive nor hostile messages, but I also do believe in speaking my truth when under attack. And this is exactly what you have attempted to do through Medium.

“The Middle East’s Coronavirus” – you forgot to include the word “crisis”, in which case yes, there is a coronavirus crisis in the Middle East, as there is in the rest of the world as well. But seeing as I am writing for a Saudi-based newspaper from Dubai, the Middle East is what we are dissecting in the article. And just for accuracy purposes, journalists do not write headlines in newspapers, editors do (and photo-editors choose pictures). Nevertheless, I still see nothing wrong with the headline and it is a shame that you do.

Now, I will not get into each and every detail of your unfounded claims because, frankly speaking, I don’t deal with baseless information that is, actually, just your opinion after all. I will, however, clarify a few points.

The two “experts” you mentioned are in fact, experts, and I have interviewed them for a number of articles throughout my 8 years at The National and my 2 years at Arab News. As the author of the article, it is my choice to pick an array of experts and whether you believe they fit the bill or not is honestly of no concern to me.

It may be important to note the extensive amount of duality in your words – you are initially upset that it is the Middle East we are focusing on and not the world, yet you mention later on that you are upset we included the rest of the world when it should be the Middle East.

Concerning your “Fast Facts” checking, I did not include that myself in the article. But I do have trouble understanding how so much anger could come from that. If you have a personal vendetta against Mr Avram or his company, Ms Abella or Ms Kshemkalyani (which speaks volumes in your text), then please do not drag me into this. This issue belongs to you.

I am always open to (respectful) feedback from readers, but I will never tolerate bringing others down for one’s own personal gain. It is simply distasteful, classless and says a lot about you as a person. Not to mention that my email is plastered almost everywhere so you could have easily contacted me directly, in a respectful manner for a mature conversation, rather than let your emotions get the best of you and broadcast them all over the internet. I would have had a lot more respect for you then.

As per editorial feedback, the only people who qualify for this are the editors and the editor-in-chief at the newspaper. If you feel differently, it does not make you right – it means your opinion differs. That, in itself, I can accept because life is all about different opinions. Yet it is the manner in which you have conveyed your diverging opinion that has shown us all what you are truly made of.

It is also worth mentioning your final note on the fact that you had contacted me at 2am on a Thursday and hadn’t heard back from me by Sunday midnight. First off, you may not be aware that messages from people outside of your “followers” on Twitter end up in hidden messages. And even if they didn’t, the world does not revolve around you nor your clock. And even if it did, you chose to point out that I didn’t reply over a weekend within about 48 hours…?

When I did, in fact, come across your message today, that is when I realised that everything that was hidden behind your text on Medium was basically anger and resentment for me not having reached out to you for a comment. Please note that, as a journalist with 11 years of experience in the UAE, I have contacts in different fields and the ones mentioned are part of my environmental go-to. If that upsets you to the point of having to write a note on Medium, then I am unable to help you here.

So in response to your Twitter message, I can say that, had your message been conveyed differently, I would have probably added you to my environment database for future stories. But given this sense of entitlement, lack of manners and just blatant disrespect to others, and myself, I can honestly say that I will not be reaching out to you as I only deal with professionals. Your words and actions have proven otherwise.

Ultimately, I will leave you with this, Safi. What I see is a disgruntled and entitled person who has taken cheap shots at a well-reputed newspaper (and respectable experts) for her own popularity contest. You have attempted to create a mess where there was none to start with and I am thankful that you have failed in doing so.

Loud and rude voices are not the ones that get heard nor respected. In this world of polarity and divisiveness, it is sad to see that there are still “adults” who are unable to articulate their opinion in a respectful manner, and who still seek to fuel division.

I am proud to say that I will have no part in it.

If your goal is truly to save the environment, then you should probably focus on that rather than promote yourself.

Caline

(I should also give you a head’s up that there is a typo in the word “single” in your third point)

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