The Guardian apologizes to Dubai's Sheikh Mohammad over false claim

The Guardian amended the article and added a footnote to it

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The Guardian has published an apology to the UAE Vice President and governor of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, for claiming that his office had placed an advertising with an Italian fashion agency for the recruitment of a number of female assistants to help in shopping during a trip in Europe.

The Guardian amended its article and added a footnote saying: “UAE vice-president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed's office has contacted us to confirm that no request, or authorization, for recruitment of assistants related to travel has been made by the palace or his office. We are happy to clarify that and apologize.”

The amended version of the article states that “a wealthy Dubai sheikh is scouring Venice for a small army of female assistants to help him spend his cash.” It did not however identify who the Sheikh is.

It quoted the owner of an Italian fashion company and a casting agency as saying that he received a call from a Dubai-based agency seeking Italian women to assist with a shopping spree around Europe because of “their strong tasted in fashion.”

Those women must be attractive, stylish and young. They need to be (or at least look) between 18 and 28 years of age, according to the Guardian article. English language is a requirement because that is the foreign language which the sheikh's family is most familiar with. If the applicants speak French and Arabic this would be a “bonus.” but above all, the applicants must “possess supremely sharp shopping skills.”

Successful applicants would join the Sheikh and his family during a trip in Europe and they would be paid 100 euros a day. During the trip they would allegedly attend “various high-end dinners and events, stay in luxury accommodation and fly 'by private jet only' between Madrid, Paris, London, Stockholm, Ibiza, Milan and Venice.”

Cast director named Mauro Belcaro has screened 60 applicants, out of 100, and only “one or two” made the cut, according to the Guardian.

“Beauty is the least important criteria here,” Belcaro was quoted as saying. “Image consultancy experience and intelligence are more crucial.”

He noted that the marital status of the female applicants is not important. Belcaro said: “This is not a harem we are building! It is more like a family vacation; many of the sheikh's children will be there. The ladies' responsibility is to ensure they are dressed correctly for the social events they attend.”

The Guardian's story doesn't however explain why the newspaper didn't contact the Sheikh's office for confirmation or denial before publishing the story.