May 20, 2006

The Arabs own him

Half-listening to NPR's Weekend Edition, I heard a man talking about current prospects in the horse-racing world, and he said of one horse (I forget which):

He's a very expensive horse. The Arabs own him.

I thought, what, all of them? The entire population of the continuous region of predominantly Arab nations extending from Mesopotamia to Western Sahara? I suppose he meant that the horse was owned by consortium of super-rich sheikhs from Saudi Arabia or the UAE. [Update: Quite possibly the horse he was talking about was Discreet Cat, which won the $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby last March 25. Discreet Cat is owned by Godolphin, the racing stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai.] The remark sounded very strange to me. If a group of South American investors owned a racehorse, would he say "The Latin Americans own him?" If it was Don Ho and some well-heeled co-investors from some of the Pacific Islands, would he say, "The Polynesians own him? It seems unlikely. The Arabs seem to have a much more sharp and unified profile than other widely spread transnational ethnic or linguistic groups. When one of them gets in the news, the news is more likely to be attributed to the entire group than it would be if the same thing had been done by a member of some less salient group.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at May 20, 2006 10:16 AM