The Arabian Peninsula
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Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States public lecture
by Fatima Ayub - 10 Apr 13
Edited by Christopher Davidson
I had never associated the Dutch with the Gulf; the European powers that come to my mind for their involvement in the region are the Portuguese and the British. Then I read an essay called “The Dutch East India Company and Bahrain” by B.J. Slot, and learnt that of course the Dutch had been very active in the Gulf.
When I arrived in the Gulf fourteen years ago, my perception of this region was the same as that of millions of other migrants, that this is a place where we can easily earn enough to achieve financial freedom. But over the years, a different gulf has been haunting my thoughts: that between expectations and reality. In other words, the fact that many who come looking for gold are having to satisfy themselves with coal.
United Arab Emirates
The New York Hall of Science in Queens is currently showcasing “1,001 Inventions,” an exhibit documenting scientific advances made in the Islamic World while Europe was mired in the Dark Ages. The standards are all there – the advances in surgery, astronomy, and mathematics without which we might still be engaged in trepanation, the reading of animal entrails and addition by abacus. But there is another pioneering regional development not on display: the modernization of the ancient art of bribery.
While not as great as it had been in the recent past, the role of arms and military spending in the societies and economies of the Gulf states is still much larger than in any other area of the world. It was not until after the Iran-Iraq War and the 1991 Gulf war that these states felt that they could make reductions, necessitated by the 1980s fall in world oil prices, in their very large levels of military spending. Only in Kuwait, for understandable reasons, did military spending in 1995, measured in current dollars, exceed that of 1985.