Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A thought about Arab culture

A couple of years ago I had a discussion with someone from an Arab country as to whether they were culturally similar or significantly different one from another. I held the latter position.

Of course, the countries are similar in that they all share the Islamic religion and they all have had monarchies or authoritarian governments. I held that due to their differing histories, in many important ways the countries were different. And of course, the oil rich Arab countries had very different economies than those without oil.

It seems clear now as these countries go through a period of demonstrations demanding more participation in government, and governments that are more responsive to groups that feel unheard, the countries are different in very important ways.

I fear not all the demonstrations will achieve the reforms that the seek, but I suspect that the Middle East and North Africa will be very different in a generation than they were two months ago!

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