November 19, 2012

Bright, Shiny Tinderboxes of the Persian Gulf

Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg

AP Photo

Visiting the Gulf monarchies over the years, I have heard numerous tales of merciless exploitation, denunciations of the overpaid and idle native citizens and grievances about the near- total absence of anything resembling the rule of law. In some ways, the Gulf seems to combine the worst of the last century’s dominant ideologies, capitalism and socialism. Here, you can find both a small minority accumulating wealth without responsibility and an absurdly generous welfare system that breeds unmotivated and unproductive citizens. The fragile balance is maintained by the earliest beneficiaries of the world’s dependence on fossil fuels: the tribes and sheikhs, who under Ottoman and then British suzerainty carved out spheres of influence for themselves and then found new...

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TAGGED: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, Qatar, Persian Gulf, Middle East, United Arab Emirates, UAE

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