Alexandra Botez came under fire over the weekend after she appeared to defend Dubai's alleged use of slavery on an AT&T sponsored stream hosted from the 2021 World Chess Championship taking place in the United Arab Emirates. While the sisters later claimed she was being taken out of context, the statement still caused an uproar from their stream chat and folks online who were offended by the comment.
During a question and answer portion of their stream, Alex Botez responded to comments in the chat criticizing the fact that Dubai was allegedly built on slave labor in the past. Instead of condemning slavery or ignoring the comment, Alex Botez responded with: "I'm sorry, but what was the US built on? Like, the [UAE] may have been built on this a little later..." before being cut off by her sister who attempted to change the subject, calling the topic too "political" for the sponsored stream.
The half-baked observations were interpreted by many in the chat and online as Alex defending the US's use of slavery in the past, as well as a defense of Dubai's use of slavery. The chat was very vocal about their frustrations with Botez' comments about slavery, and further frustrated when the sisters refused to clarify or address the comments they made, with the Botez's citing the fact that they are on a sponsored stream in Dubai where they "are not really able to speak openly."
Alex Botez did later clarify her comment a little bit, saying, "here is all I am trying to say. We are in Dubai, so we won't say anything in particular about this country, the only thing that bothers me is when people from first-world or developed countries sh*t on developing countries for doing things that those developed countries did in the first place, that is a little bit of ignorance."
The sisters warned against taking the sound byte out of context, saying it's a longer discussion that they will be able to have when they are at home. However, the clarification did not do much to prevent the onslaught of criticism online.
While it is clear the Botez sisters were limited in what they could discuss due to their sponsored stream and their location in Dubai, these facts only made some users more upset at the sisters for refusing to take a moral stand against something as obviously bad as slavery. The comment sparked massive reactions, including nearly 19,000 upvotes on the clip on r/LivestreamFail and plenty of reactions on Twitter.
We can expect further clarification of these comments when the Botez sisters return to the United States. Ironically, her comments defending Dubai came only a few minutes after Alex complained that western media doesn't do a good enough job covering alleged Chinese human rights abuses.
The UAE has been accused of using forms of modern slavery by Human Rights watch and multiple governments, who allege that companies keep the passports of their workers and often refuse to pay their salaries after work is complete. The UAE is also known for other human rights violations, including the alleged mistreatment of women and rape victims.
The World Chess Federation has been criticized in the past for hosting events in places like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both countries that are under heavy scrutiny for their alleged human rights abuses.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.