The “Golfization” of the Arab world

Po sow discord in a meeting between Arab intellectuals, there is an infallible trick. Suggest that the Gulf is the new center of gravity for their region. Affirm that the pendulum of power has swung from Egypt, Algeria and Iraq, to ​​Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. That Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha are the new poles of Arab modernity, the equivalent of what Cairo and Beirut were between the 1950s and 1970s.

This provocative thesis is supported by Emirati academic Abdulkhaleq Abdulla in a book published in 2018 and republished the following year: The Gulf Moment (Al-Farabi editions). He affirms that the influence of the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula now goes well beyond the oil markets, the sector where they have long been confined, and even the international political-diplomatic scene.

According to the author, the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC: Arabia, Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain), not content with representing 60% of Arab GDP, have become the hubs of production and the dissemination of knowledge in the Maghreb and the Middle East. The Arab world is said to be on an accelerated path to “golfing”.

« Illusion »

In support of his demonstration, the author mentions various elements: international rankings which place Saudi and Emirati universities in the top three of the best higher education institutions in the Arab world; a Unesco report designating Arabia and the Emirates as the countries where the greatest number of scientific patents are filed in a year in the region; the preponderant role of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, the Qatari and Saudi channels, in the Arab media landscape; the importance of the Riyadh and Chardja (UAE) book fairs, the fairs where the largest number of books are sold in the Arab world, etc.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Seen from Saudi Arabia: the unlikely Riyadh book fair

As expected, The Gulf Moment did not fail to generate an avalanche of outraged and dismissive comments. In the think tanks to which he has been invited, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla has encountered a barrage of nostalgics for the old Arab order, who persist in seeing the Gulf dwellers as ignorant Bedouins, with pockets swollen with petrodollars.

In an article published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, essayist Ahmed Al-Sarraf described as« illusion » the argument developed in The Gulf Moment. According to him, the economic stabilization of the old lighthouses of the Arab world, like Egypt, should allow them to regain their preeminence of yesteryear, especially as the rise of the Gulf is based on a soon-depleted resource, black gold. .

You have 15.49% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.