Hot off the Arab press 450435

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

A cotton-candy seller drives along a street in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province last week (photo credit: REUTERS)
A cotton-candy seller drives along a street in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province last week
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, April 3
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman recently laid out Saudi Arabia’s plan to wean the kingdom off oil.
In a detailed interview to Bloomberg, the prince laid out his vision to transform the Saudi Public Investment Fund – controlling more than $2 trillion – from one based on oil sales to one supporting a diversified economy.
This is a prime milestone in Saudi history. For decades, the kingdom relied on oil sales to support its bustling economy. Recent years, however, have seen a steady decline in the price of oil and a global shift towards alternative renewable energy sources. Thus, an absolute reliance on oil sales is not a sustainable policy for the Saudi economy. Prince Mohammad bin Salman understands this, and laid this out in his visionary plan: putting Saudi Arabia on the path towards becoming an oil-independent economy within the next 20 years.
This plan will curb unnecessary spending and make government investments in Saudi Arabia more efficient. It will diversify the Saudi economy and revitalize it with new foreign investments in the fields of technology, finance, and services. By the time this goal is achieved, the Saudi Public Investment Fund will be the single largest fund in the world, positioning Saudi Arabia as a leader of the global economy, and setting a new standard for oil-producing countries. – Turki al-Dakhil
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, April
1 Let us heal first. What we’ve been witnessing in recent weeks is a viral wave of Islamophobia – on social networks, in newspapers, and in politics. The attacks in Brussels sparked yet another wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, not only in Europe, but also in the United States.
Why are we accepting this kind of rhetoric? Why are we idly sitting, inactive, while such false accusations are made against us? Have we become so used to the bashing of Islam that we take it as a given? Are we not concerned by American presidential candidates calling to kick Muslims out of the United States or accusing them of all of society’s illnesses? The problems facing the Arab world – in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and other places – will not be solved until we come to terms with our identity and its relation to others. We cannot – in fact, we must not – be shy of who we are and what we believe in. Our Islam is not the Islam depicted on Belgian television. It is not the Islam referred to in Ted Cruz’s or Donald Trump’s speeches. It is our responsibility to take these matters into our own hands, and fight over our representation in the world.
We cannot hide behind dividing lines of Sunnis and Shiites, or certain nation states versus others. We are all Arabs, and we are all Muslim. Until we heal ourselves and show our true colors, Islamophobia will prevail. – Diana Maqled
How much for mesi’s shoes?
Masr al-Youm, Egypt, March 29
A large number of Egyptians participated in a heated online campaign against Lionel Messi, after the global soccer star appeared on Egyptian television and offered to donate his shoes to the Egyptian poor.
The attackers claimed that Messi’s offer is an “insult” and “offense” to the entire Egyptian people, who have no need in used shoes to solve their problems. Some claimed that the greatest nation in the Arab world will do just fine without Messi’s “pathetic” donation, while others called Egyptian authorities to respond to the player’s offensive remarks by filing a complaint with the International Football Association.
Unfortunately, what many people failed to understand is that Lionel Messi’s intentions were not to insult or offend the Egyptian people. In many sports in general, and in soccer in particular, donating shoes of famous players is a known tradition. These articles of clothing, despite being used, are extremely valuable.
Some can be sold for thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If anything, Messi’s gesture is one of honor and respect towards the Egyptians. Many other soccer players have donated their shoes for good causes in the past: in 2011, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo sold his shoes for $200,000, which went towards building schools in Gaza. In 2006, legendary English soccer player David Beckham sold his shoes for $180,000, which was donated to victims of the earthquake in Pakistan.
Given the fact that Messi won the Golden Ball Award – given to the world’s best soccer player – more than five times, it is safe to assume that his shoes are worth even more than those of others. The angry Egyptians can yell and shout as loud as they want, but, with this in mind, it is Messi who is having the last laugh. – Muhammad Nawar
Israeli War on Negev
Beduin Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, March 30
After continuous seizure of Palestinian lands in the Galilee and the West Bank throughout the years, Israeli authorities are now turning their attention to a new area: the Negev Desert. Government initiatives have paved the way for the building of numerous new Jewish villages in the region, while neglecting and displacing indigenous Beduin populations. This is done by depriving Beduin villages of infrastructure for water and electricity, as well as by foiling the building of new roads, schools, and health clinics for Arabs.
All the while, Jewish towns are given government subsidies to expand and grow. In rare cases in which Beduin do, in fact, manage to build new homes, the Israeli police, citing issues of legality and lack of urban planning, often demolish these buildings. The most ironic part of this entire saga is that fact that Beduin lived in the Negev long before the State of Israel was formed.
With the 40th anniversary of Land Day just behind us, it is evident today more than ever that the Israeli State is still waging a fierce war against its Palestinian population. It is disenfranchising an entire subset of its people, preventing them from owning lands and growing in size. It is doing everything it can to set facts on the ground and erase others’ history: not just in the West Bank, but also within the 1948 borders. - Bilal Daher
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