Community leaders have responded to funny man Omid Djalili’s tweet describing Portsmouth as ‘Dubai with no money’.
His put-down on Twitter has sparked some criticism but also understanding as well from political and business leaders.
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones defended the city, saying: ‘Portsmouth is an amazing city that is leading the way on a number of national and international projects and the arrival of the America’s Cup this summer proves that,’ she said.
‘I don’t think the tweet was particularly funny but I appreciate the vein in which it was intended.’
Other members of Portsmouth City Council were also quick to show their support for the city.
Cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Cllr Linda Symes said: ‘How can you say a city has no money when it is bringing in prestigious events like the America’s Cup?
How can you say a city has no money when it is bringing in prestigious events like the America’s Cup?Cllr Linda Symes
‘Ben Ainslie rates Portsmouth so much that he brought his business here.
‘Dubai has no history, it’s built on sand.’
Jonathan Goring, project director at Ben Ainslie Racing, said: ‘It’s not helpful but we have a got a business that was born out of adversity and that is partly why we chose Portsmouth as our venue.’
The comedian sent out the tweet on Sunday, showing a picture of the Spinnaker Tower with the hash-tag ‘#Dubaiwithnomoney’.
The comment, referencing the similarity in design between the tower and the Burj Al Arab luxury hotel in Dubai, has drawn a mixed reaction from the community.
Some were less critical.
‘Comparisons with Dubai are flattering and the Spinnaker Tower is a regional landmark,’ said Cllr Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development at Portsmouth City Council.
‘I have no problem with what he said, I’m not outraged by it.’
Some have denounced the comment as unhelpful while some have supported Djalili as simply making a joke, and others have drawn attention to more serious issues.
Celia Clark, president of the Portsmouth Society, a voluntary organisation the works to preserve the environment in the city, said:‘There are people in Dubai with no money and they are the workers who are building the big towers and they are treated very badly.
‘I would rather be there than here because of the weather otherwise I would not like to be there at all.’
Others have condemned the comment outright, with Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, saying:‘It sounds like a load of twaddle to me.
‘I don’t think it’s very funny for a professional comedian if that’s the best he can come up with.’
Stuart Dunn, chief executive of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘I think raking a positive spin it recognises the prominence of Spinnaker Tower and that we will have more media coverage in the summer than Dubai because of Ben Ainslie.
‘Putting a positive spin is more important than complaining about someone making jokes.’
The comic’s views also sparked a lively debate on our Facebook page