They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, sometimes you hear one sentence that sums up years or may be decades of miseries. Two days ago, an Arab (I think Lebanese) Circus director was been interviewed on TV. It seems this Circus entertainment company is new and they will start their show in Abu Dhabi soon. Here is what caught my attention:
Host: After Abu Dhabi what other Arab countries you will perform in?
Director: After Abu Dhabi we will go to Dubai then [other UAE city] then Qatar. After that we will go to Malaysia.
Host [persuading]: Okay. But, what other Arab countries you will go to?
Director [speaking sarcastically with a smirk]: Where else would we go?
The director’s response was spot on. It sums up the situation in the Arab world. Out of the 22 Arab countries scattered between the Middle-East and North Africa only few countries, in the Gulf, are living comfortably. The director was classy not to ask the host where you think we should go beside UAE and Qatar. He even included Malaysia although it is not an Arab country so the host can understand there are not other Arab countries to perform in. And you don’t expect to watch a circus in Saudi Arabia.
People in the Arab countries—except the GCC—live in a very poor situation. They are overwhelmed by wars, religion and/or political conflicts and poverty. People outside this region watch the escalation on TV but as they say seeing the fire is not like burning by it.
Here is how bad the situation is. People now are wishing for the time of Asad, Sadam, Mubarak and Qaddafi to come back. Yes, even insane Qadaffi people wish he is still ruling his country. Actually, people hope of any dictator but this group of savages roaming the region killing every hope left for a brighter future in this region.
I live in a Northern city in Jordan called Irbid. It is 7,000 years old used to be called Arabella. Within only 30 km from the center of the city there are whole Greek cities (Jerash and UmmQais). Romans, Byzantines and Muslims settled in this city. If this city with all its ancient history is in a different region it would be one of the top tourist destinations in the world. In the past five months I have yet to see a single tourist. It is not just because the instability in the region but the city became so crowded you hardly see a car moving in a steady speed.
Tourists stopped coming to Irbid not just because of the instability. Would you be happy seeing 60- or 70- something old women holding a toddler begging on the street during your vacation? Or how would you feel seeing a six-year-old Syrian or Jordanian boy selling gums at traffic lights.
In the USA, people mostly worry about how to save for their children college education and retirement. In Europe, with their magnificent social system I don’t know what their worries are. But here people fear tomorrow. When your government moves its tanks to the borders you know it is only the beginning of something so big and terrifying you wish you don’t live to see it.