31 July, 2007

This Is Refreshing For A Change

It's hard watching or reading the news; especially when one lives here. Here: near all the havoc and tragedies around - in Iraq, in Palestine and in Lebanon. But this from Newsweek: is truly refreshing and very heartening:

We all know the headlines by now: the Middle East is burning, right? So it seems, as Palestinians and Iraqis wage civil war, Lebanon seethes, Syria and Israel trade barbs and Iran spits defiance. Yet beyond the smoke a very different story is emerging nearby. In the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, times have never been better. Business is booming. And political conflict has become a foreign phenomenon, watched on flat-screen TVs in the air-conditioned living rooms of Doha, Dubai, Kuwait City, Muscat and Riyadh.

It's no exaggeration to say that the oil-rich states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—are enjoying a transformational moment, one that could deeply affect the region if not the world. Buoyed by unprecedented oil prices, these states are awash with cash. In the past five years, they have earned a staggering $1.5 trillion for their petroleum, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). And there's no end in sight: by the close of 2007, the IIF says, the GCC will have picked up an additional $540 billion, more than the combined exports of Brazil, India, Poland and Turkey.

All that green has turned the once backward region into the world's 16th largest economy, according to IIF. And if present trends continue, the GCC zone could become the world's sixth largest by 2030. What's most remarkable, however, is how the new money is being spent. The gulf has experienced oil booms before, but rarely managed to capitalize on them; three decades ago an oil windfall helped states modernize infrastructure and health services, but many leaders blew much of the money on defense or vanity projects, or simply hid profits in Western banks. Read

I wonder: where does Yemen fit in all this? We are not a part of the GCC, and yet we are. We are not fully a member of the GCC, and yet millions of Yemenis earn a living, one way or the other, through our wealthy neighbours. Millions of Yemenis too, in one way or the other, are related to a citizen or citizens of one or more of our neighbouring countries. Almost every one here in Hadhramout has a relative who is a citizen, or living, or working - in one or more of the Gulf countries. I wonder too: how long will our neighbours take, to completely accept us within and as part of them? Still, I here; we here - are indeed happy and very encouraged that our neighbours are becoming World economic powers.