How to create a, erm, riot of publicity in the Middle East

Recent endeavours by Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton in the Middle East have led to protests. Maybe it's time for the US to rethink its cultural exports, says Luke Blackall

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The Independent Online

Kim Kardashian's business trip to Bahrain to open a new store in her Millions of Milkshakes shop started well. The LA socialite and reality star took to Twitter to proclaim the country as "the prettiest place on earth".

While the kingdom's Foreign Minister was happy (he retweeted the praise), some of the Bahraini subjects seemed less content. Police had to fire tear gas on around 50 protesters who were upset because Kardashian's fame stems from the fact that she starred in a sex tape.

There were further protests when she arrived in Kuwait City, where a local preacher claimed that "her visit could help spread vice among our youth".

But Kim's not the only one raising heckles in the already-tense Middle East.

Paris Hilton, who with her famous family, LA upbringing and sex tape of her own was the mould for Kardashian's success, has also been causing a stir in the region. Last week, some locals complained online after a new Hilton-branded handbag store opened in a shopping mall in the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca, a place which forbids non-Muslims from entering.

All this comes just a week after US rock star Andrew WK was invited and then swiftly uninvited by the US Department of State to go to Bahrain to share his thoughts on "the power of positive partying". Perhaps the West needs to find some new cultural ambassadors.