2013: Lucky for Gulf
Arabs - Perhaps Not for the West! (Akhbar Al Khalij, Bahrain)
2013 is considered an ominous one to Europeans and Americans, as many associate
the figure with crises and catastrophe. But while people in the West are
pessimistic about the number 13, in our Arab and Islamic world we have no such
belief. ... Unlike Europeans and Americans, we have a saying in our region: 'Be
optimistic about good times, and they will come.'"
Like a reader of tea leaves, I reviewed the news headlines
on New Year's Day. The year 2013 is considered an ominous one to Europeans and
Americans, as many associate the figure with crises and catastrophe. But while
people in the West are pessimistic about the number 13, in our Arab and Islamic
world we have no such belief. And the headlines I read New Year's Day confirm
this, such as, Saudi Arabia Discovers Huge
Oil Reserves in Tabuk, and Prepares to Launch Two Communication and Data
Gathering Satellites in Collaboration with Russia in 2013; Dubai New Year's Eve Celebrations Confirm Economic
Crisis is Over; The United Arab
Emirates Begins Second Economic Boom in a Decade; Emirates Airlines Doubles Flights of Jumbo Airbus to New York and Paris;
Young Entrepreneurs from 38 Countries Gather
in Bahrain to Promote Investment Flows Among Nations; and Talks Held to Establish Joint Arab Stock Market
in Bahrain Financial Harbor.
News like this at the beginning of a year in which Europeans
are pessimistic clearly illustrate that the nations of the Gulf Cooperation
are not concerned with such negative thinking. In GCC countries, the situation
is getting better and better, both economically and politically. Even the United
Arab Emirates, which some considered to be an economic bubble destined to burst
during the 2008-9 global financial crisis, has, as it turns out, fully
recovered, and is once again on its feet in better shape than before.
Bahrain, which was targeted by a political and sectarian conspiracy
to topple the government and establish Iranian Guardianship
of the Islamic Jurists, and where the economy and trade sectors were also targeted,
has also recovered its economic vitality. For New Year's Eve, 80,000 Saudi automobiles
flowed in, and experts forecast that Saudis would spend approximately 50
million Saudi riyals [$13,300,000] in movie theaters, restaurants and hotels.
And there are expectations that total investment in Bahrain would reach $45
billion by 2017.
Unlike Europeans and Americans, we have a saying in our
region: "Be optimistic about good times, and they will come." But
that doesn't apply to some countries in Europe (For example, Cypriot President
Dimitris Christofias launched a scathing attack last week on the tough
austerity measures imposed by the European Union on its members in financial distress,
among them Cyprus, which is facing a bleak year).
So it seems that the figure 13 brings doom for those who
believe it will. So let us not copy the practice. The optimistic shall find