Hot off the Arab press 446753

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

A gas station in Cairo hires women to work as attendants (photo credit: REUTERS)
A gas station in Cairo hires women to work as attendants
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Bayan, United Arab Emirates, February 27
Much has been said and written in recent weeks about the governmental changes we made in the UAE – namely, the appointment of a minister of Happiness, Tolerance, and the Future, as well as a 22-year-old minister of Youth; both of whom are women. What has been missing from this discussion, however, is the reason we made these changes.
These appointments took place because we learned a lot over the course of the past five years. We learned the lessons of history, and made a conscious effort to build a brighter future. The terrible events that we are witnessing all around our region take place because governments failed to respond to the aspirations of their people. We witnessed leaders turning their backs to their citizens; not giving them room to fulfill their goals and ambitions.
We are proud of our heritage and history, but we are also proud of our youth. Younger generations are at the forefront of development: They are the first to learn new skills, the first to adopt new technologies, and the first to inform us of changing global trends. We owe it to our youth to give them the tools they need to learn and grow, to aspire and fulfill their ambitions.
The events around us remind us, time and again, that tolerance is the key to development. The only way to fight sectarian, ideological, political, and religious animosities is through education. There is no room in our society for any type of discrimination or hatred. The Muslim people – across the entire world – have been at the forefront of civilization, in science, literature, and art. For hundreds of years, we have coexisted with Christians and Jews in the lands we came to inhabit.
What our region needs is not strong foreign powers, but strong internal powers. What we need are empowered societies that believe in their leadership and love their country. They key to a more stable Middle East is in the hands of the youth. This is why we chose to empower younger generations. This is why such ministerial changes will only continue and expand in upcoming years. – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, and Emir of Dubai.
Al-Nahar, Lebanon, February 22
Earlier last week, the Saudi government announced the suspension of $3 billion in aid to the Lebanese Army, following Beirut’s failure to condemn the attacks carried out against Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. As proud Lebanese citizens, we might not agree with this decision, but we can only hold ourselves accountable for it.
Gulf countries in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, have stood by Lebanon’s side for decades. In each and every attack carried out by Israel against Lebanon, Riyadh provided immediate help and relief efforts. The Gulf is also home to thousands of Lebanese workers, who contribute billions of dollars to the Lebanese economy by wiring wages back to banks in Beirut. Now is the time to reflect on our politics, and understand where we went wrong. How did our relations with our closest ally in the Gulf hit such a shoal? Hezbollah has dragged our country into an unnecessary involvement in the Syrian civil war. It follows orders from Damascus, ignoring Lebanese national interests.
How is it possible that foreign powers hijacked our government? Lebanon is politically dysfunctional, and it is also losing its closest allies in the region. If this trend continues, we will find ourselves facing even worse trouble than we already are.
We might not like the way this sounds, but it is our responsibility to get our country out of this mess. – Naila Tawini
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, February 25
Sources in Riyadh revealed that an Iranian plot to hijack and blow up a Saudi airliner has been foiled by Saudi authorities in recent weeks. According to these sources, several terrorists made their way to Saudi Arabia from Iran, via Turkey, on their way to carry out the attack.
Iran has long been sponsoring terrorist activity in the Gulf, but it has always done so covertly. Is it possible that mounting tensions between the two countries brought Iran to step up its activity against the Saudi kingdom? Using terrorism to achieve political means is not a new tactic for Iran. It is also not the first time that Iranians try to carry out attacks against civilian airplanes.
For those who don’t remember, in 1988, a Hezbollah cell that was funded by Iran hijacked Kuwait Airways Flight 422, forcing it to land in Iran and then in Cyprus.
Several passengers were killed in the process.
Here we are, almost three decades later, still facing the same acts of terrorism. Iran might have signed a nuclear agreement with the international community, but it has not changed its face for a single second.
Its aggressiveness still exists, and so does the threat it poses to the Middle East. – Turki al-Dakhil
Al-Arab, London, February 28
Last weekend, released Palestinian prisoner Omar Al-Naif was assassinated at the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria by Israeli agents.
But the responsibility falls on the Palestinian Authority and the Bulgarian government. Both knew that Al-Naif sought refuge at the embassy after receiving life threats from the Israeli government, which submitted a formal request to extradite him only two weeks earlier. The question is why wasn’t he protected? Where were the embassy’s security guards? Where was the Palestinian Authority? On a different front, back in Ramallah, a massive demonstration of Palestinian teachers demanding fairer wages was crushed by the police. The Palestinian government ignored the teachers’ claims and arrested the demonstrators. While these two events seem unrelated at first, they are, in fact, directly tied to one another. They are a testimony to the deterioration of the Palestinian national movement, and the erosion of its legitimacy.
The Palestinian Authority has become an authoritarian regime that fails to understand that liberation from occupation is directly linked with democracy and justice. Its inability to bring together Palestinian fractions across the board – from those in the West Bank and Gaza, through those within the 1948 lines, to those abroad – proves that it failed at doing its job. It does not protect Palestinian individuals, and does not fight for Palestinian interests.
We Palestinians have been left not only without a state, but also without leadership, and so long as this is our situation, change will not occur. – Majed Kayali
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