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Tuesday, October 20, 1998 Published at 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK

World: Middle East

Uday Hussein: Playboy turned academic

Uday used to be seen as a playboy

By Martin Asser of the BBC's Arabic service

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, has completed the first draft of his doctoral thesis, which deals with the effect of post-Cold War conditions on America's superpower status.

It would take a brave Iraqi academic not to award him with a PhD. Uday Hussein has a fearsome reputation for murder and brutality in that already much brutalised country.

However, he is not taking any chances. He has invited comments, both favourable and critical, from the Iraqi public on the draft, which he distributed free with his influential Babel newspaper.

It is a new direction for 34-year-old. Apart from running Babel, his curriculum vitae includes ownership of Iraq's Youth television, and the presidency of the Iraqi Olympic committee and journalists' union.

The expensively produced book is 400 pages long and entitled "The World after the Cold War" (al-Alam ma ba'd al-Harb al-Barida).

It is dedicated to Saddam Hussein himself and bears a Koranic inscription - "The people with knowledge are the ones who fear God the most".

In it, Uday argues that American domination of the world stage will fade by the year 2015 and new superpowers, such as Japan, China and the European Union, will challenge the United States' moral and economic position.

The glossy cover depicts Saddam Hussein in a pastiche of St George slaying the dragon.

The president, mounted on a white stallion and dressed in traditional Arab clothes, spears a serpent on the ground.

After the national process of comment and criticism, the thesis will be presented to the Political Science Department at Baghdad University.

His attendance at the University must have been irregular at best. Apart from his media interests, his main activities until two years ago appeared to include cruising Baghdad in one of his fleet of sports cars looking for women, and murdering members of his family.

Then he himself was subject to an assassination attempt, which left him paralysed from the waist down and, by some accounts, impotent.

He is out of his wheelchair now, but perhaps that experience is what encouraged Saddam Hussein's heir apparent to pursue a more cerebral existence.

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