A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

SAUDI ARABIA’S King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (left) attends a ceremony of the traditional Ardha sword dance as part of the activities of Janadriyah Culture festival, in Riyadh, last month (photo credit: REUTERS)
SAUDI ARABIA’S King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (left) attends a ceremony of the traditional Ardha sword dance as part of the activities of Janadriyah Culture festival, in Riyadh, last month
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Ittihad, UAE, March 3
The World Economic Forum each year releases a Global Competitiveness Report, which assesses the ability of countries to deliver prosperity to their citizens. In the latest edition, the United Arab Emirates ranked 17th overall and for the first time topped the Arab world.
This incredible achievement is a testament to the great vision of our leaders, most notably Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who challenged the skeptics and pushed the UAE forward.
Sheikh Al-Maktoum has proven that even a nation with a large dependence on oil exports can reinvent its economy, develop new innovative sectors, invest in infrastructure and maximize government spending.
He has shown us, and the entire world, that these achievements need not come at the expense of gender equality, tolerance of foreigners and political freedom.
Our government has adopted a vision of excellence aimed at making the UAE the No. 1 country in the world, and our leaders will not stop until we get there. This tribute by the World Economic Forum is a reminder that we, in the UAE, enjoy a level of prosperity that is unparalleled in the region. At a time when our neighbors are fighting wars and suffering from political instability and terrorism, Abu Dhabi stands as a beacon of progress. Our leaders continue to proudly guide their people, always putting country ahead of their own interests. – Muhammad al-Hamadi
Al-Watan, Bahrain, March 2
A United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at stopping Iran’s illegal smuggling of weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen was blocked by Russia last week. The resolution, which was proposed by the United Kingdom, France and the United States and supported by 11 council members, was vetoed by Moscow. It is almost impossible for me to understand how Russia can act with such duplicity, claiming a desire to cultivate its relations with Gulf nations while strengthening the very militias that undermine regional security.
Perhaps even more dumbfounding is why Gulf leaders continue to turn a blind eye to such provocations.
Why do Gulf leaders continue to deal with their Russian counterparts in matters ranging from energy to security? Gulf states would be wise to finally stand up for their interests by making clear to the Russians, once and for all, that this hypocrisy and deceit must end. Business interests speak louder than words and the time has come to predicate international agreements with Russia on its willingness to support our security interests. Otherwise, we must find new and loyal partners to deal with.
Unfortunately, Russia has chosen to side with an evil power that arms and funds irregular armies in the Middle East. It is making lucrative gains by partnering with malicious forces that try to undermine the Gulf’s security. This is not how trade partners, let alone allies, treat one another. The time has come to teach the Russians a lesson once and for all by forcing them to choose between us or them. – Sawsan Shaer
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, March 4
Ever since ascending the throne, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz has taken a harsh stance against the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical forces in the kingdom. He has made it his personal goal to modernize Saudi Arabia and empower moderate voices in the Middle East. In doing so, he has proven that both our region’s political landscape and economic development can be improved by combating the evil forces that exist among us.
In his previous role as governor of Riyadh, King Abdulaziz kept a close eye on Muslim Brotherhood members and their affiliates. His main observation, reiterated time and again, was that while news of the Brotherhood frequently appeared in newspapers and on television, the movement’s traction on the ground is, in reality, minimal. Whereas most Saudi citizens identify as moderate Muslims who do not buy into the Brotherhood’s religious doctrine, a small minority that claims to speak on behalf of Islam has been deceiving the population. By raising their voices and creating commotion at every possible opportunity, the Islamists have succeeded in creating the false impression that they comprise a significant political bloc.
But anyone who understands Islam’s true nature knows that the fundamentalism preached by the Brotherhood completely contradicts what our religion preaches. Islam is about moderation; that is, reconciling our religious obligations with daily routine and finding a balance between one’s personal well-being and the well-being of society as a whole. Those who choose to alienate us from the rest of the world and use violence to spread their message don’t deserve to be among us. Indeed, they are acting against the basic principles of Islam.
King Abdulaziz has exposed the true colors of these actors and is leading Saudi Arabia through a historical transformation that will allow it to lead the Arab world for decades to come. I have no doubt that he will be remembered as a visionary leader who reinvigorated Islam and opened the door to a new era of Muslim relations with the Christian West. The world is rapidly changing – and so is Saudi Arabia.– Muhammad Al al-Sheikh
Asharq al-Awsat, London, March 5
News recently surfaced that renowned Lebanese actor and playwright Ziad Itani, who was indicted last November on charges of collaborating with Israel, was actually framed by none other than a government official from the Anti-Cybercrime Unit, Major Susan Haj Hobeiche.
According to reports, Hobeiche, who was asked to step down following a series of inappropriate remarks made on social media – some of them revealed by Itani – sought to retaliate against the actor and hired a hacker to frame him. Itani’s social media accounts were falsified to make it appear as though he was communicating with Israeli agents. Itani was shortly thereafter put on trial and imprisoned.
Despite the revelation about Hobeiche, a major dispute has nonetheless been ignited in Lebanon between those siding with the actor and those siding with the government official. This further evidences just how pathetic the state of Lebanese politics has become, as an embittered bureaucrat resorted to spreading false accusations against a reputable public figure, thereby destroying his reputation and effectively sending him to prison.
In fact, this has become a tactic in Lebanon: namely, accusing people of “collaboration with Israel,” the go-to manner of silencing anyone who dares undermine the Lebanese regime. The “collaboration with the Zionists” excuse has been adopted by Hezbollah and pro-Assad forces in Lebanon, who label anyone standing up for Beirut’s independence and integrity a “traitor.” Therefore, the revelation about Itani’s framing is important not only because it liberates an innocent man, but also because it serves as a reminder to all of us that those claiming to be Lebanon’s biggest supporters are often the ones to neglect its interests in the blink of an eye.
All the while, those fighting to establish a better Lebanese society are described as traitors and collaborators.
What a world we live in. – Mashry al-Zaidi