Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Article excerpt

Study Wans of Stagnation in Arab Societies

The new Arab Human Development Report 2002-commissioned by the United Nations and written by a group of Arab intellectuals-warns that a lack of political freedom, repression of women and intellectual isolation are major factors contributing to the stagnation of Arab society and culture. While oil income has brought increased wealth to some states in the region, the report notes, per capita income has shrunk dramatically, leading to the conclusion that the Arab world is "richer than it is developed."

Women are denied opportunities for advancement, and maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the world. "Sadly," the report says, "the Arab world is largely depriving itself of the creativity and productivity of half its citizens."

Intellectuals often feel constrained by an increasingly powerful lower middle class whose members are literate but not broadly educated-a situation that forces many Arab thinkers into exile, and decreases intellectual productivity in the region. As an example, the report notes that "the whole Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth the number that Greece translates."

This is the first such United Nations development report devoted to a single region, and was prepared by Arab intellectuals representing both genders and a variety of academic, professional, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Dubai Increases Water Storage

The July 28 Gulf News reports that work has begun on an ambitious project aimed at doubling Dubai's water storage capacity to 232 million gallons. Water consumption in Dubai currently averages between 140 million and 145 million gallons per day, with a storage capacity of only 112 million gallons. The development is part of the long-term Dubai Network Master Plan (DNMP), the first phase of which was completed in 1995. This new phase will take 21 months to complete, just in time to meet the DNMP's 2004 deadline.

Australian Pests Welcome at emu MW

There are as many as 500,000 wild camels in Australia-descendants of pack animals brought in from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1850s who later were replaced by cars and trucks. The population has been increasing at such an alarming rate that a new industry has emerged-exporting the wild (and hence rare) camels to the Middle East for consumption. At the top of the export list are Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where an estimated 5,000 camels have been shipped this year. According to the June 28 Christian Science Monitor, that number is slated to increase to 30,000 in the near future.

Kuwaiti Parliament Self-Critical on Human Rights

A report compiled by Kuwait's parliamentary Human Rights Committee criticizes the government on several counts, and warns that Kuwaiti police are committing "serious" human rights abuses against expatriate workers. …

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