Somewhat surprisingly, Syriana is playing in the United Arab Emirates right now, and it's (mostly) intact. About two minutes of footage have been removed from Stephen Gaghan's epic tale of oil and corruption at the request of government authorities; among other things, those two minutes include "scenes showing mistreatment of Asian workers in the Gulf;" "a brief shot showing the late Saudi King Fahd in a photograph:" "a comment made by Matt Damon's character linking the business interests of the Bin Laden's family to the holy city of Mecca." The film was more carefully reviewed than most that are showed in the UAE, and was actually examined by two different government bodies before the final cuts were made.

In other censorship news, a foolishly idealistic distributor in the Middle East has scrapped plans to show Brokeback Mountain there (what with homosexuality being both illegal and morally condemned in many Middle Eastern nations). According to a representative of Italia films, when they asked various governments in the region for their feelings about releasing the movie, the consensus response was "they would rather not deal with it." Gee, that's a shock.