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The onetime fluffer of New York Sun column "Lunch at the Four Seasons," Pranay Gupte, was last seen on his way to Dubai to take over as business editor at the Khaleej Times (he was to give the paper his "Gupte touch"). Last Friday he returned to New York, bounced out of the job after 13 days. Gupte's extended explanation points the finger ultimately at a government takeover of the Khaleej Times causing his ouster. It's hard to tell where Gupte really places the blame though, since he trashes the paper's old owner, one of the editors, the paper's overall quality, and its new status as a "government organ," all the while singing the praises of Dubai's autocratic ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. As anyone familiar with Dubai knows, Khaleej Times has generally sucked for some time, and the press there has only ever been just as free as the government has seen fit to allow. Anyway, though Gupte mentions the same incidents dismissively, a tipster claims Gupte was booted for more personal reasons.

He was fired because he was giving instructions to the business desk sitting in his hotel room, on this he also got a dressing down by the editor, Prem Chandran. Then he asked the business editor, Mark Townsend, to publish a piece, when Mark recommended some changes in it, Gupte got into a fight with him, too. Plus with his hefty salary package, he became a liability, so he was shown the door. By the way, Arabies Trend, a Middle East magazine, interviewed Gupte two days back for their upcoming issue. After giving the interview on the phone, Gupte, without seeking the magazine's permission or waiting for the issue to come out, put the whole interview on his blog. The editor of the magazine is pretty pissed with him.

We can only hope that the next step is a stormcloud of traditionally huffy emails.

No 'Gupte Touch'? Ex-Sun Columnist Leaves Khaleej Times Less Than 2 Weeks On Job, Says Dubai Paper Has Become 'Government Organ' [FishbowlNY]
Witnessing the development of Dubai [Pranay Gupte Blog]