A terrible accident happened around a week ago that brought back the issue of how rich Arab tourists are treated in Egypt and the extremely negative attitude that many Egyptians hold towards their oil rich guests.I know Jordan's not in the Gulf, but when I lived in Jordan, here's how Egyptians were stereotyped:
A Qatari prince was among several participants of an illegal car race on Cairo's airport highway. The prince's car flipped and landed on a group of youth who were watching the race from the sideway. 5 youth were killed on the spot. The Qatari royal simply ran away, took his private jet and flew to Qatar. There are speculations that Egypt's police were complacent in his escape. In addition, it appears that the authorities in this particular area of Cairo were well aware of the existence of the race but turned a blind eye because of some hefty bribe they got.
There is a tremendous sense of resentment among many Egyptians regarding what happened and especially how the prince managed to escape so easily. Many ask the question of what would have happened if an Egyptian worker killed a dog in an Arab oil rich country. They believe he would have been in deep trouble. In addition, many people believe that the Egyptian government facilitated the prince's escape in order not to taint Egypt-Qatar relations.
If you asked any Egyptian about his opinion on oil rich Arabs, you would mostly get words such as "snobbish", "arrogant", and "dislikes Egyptians and look down on them." I am well aware of the bias of stereotyping but definitely these feelings did not arise in a vacuum. Personally, I think such feelings are understandable due to the actions of some rich Arabs in Egypt, but we just cannot paint the entire Gulf area with the same brush.
Well, if this is how many Egyptians feel towards Gulf Arabs, I would love to know how they feel towards Egyptians. If you are a Gulf country citizen or you're someone living in the Gulf and know about this issue, please email me or post your comment on the comments column.
You would expect an announcement that would forever change the face of the internet to be a grand affair - a big stage, spotlights, media scrums and a charismatic frontman working the crowd.That's really cute, Guardian, but you know it's wishful thinking. Not. Gonna. Happen.
But unless you knew where he was sitting, all you got was David Hendon's slightly apprehensive voice through a beige plastic earbox. The words were calm, measured and unexciting, but their implications will be felt for generations to come.
Hendon is the Department for Trade and Industry's director of business relations and was in Geneva representing the UK government and European Union at the third and final preparatory meeting for next month's World Summit on the Information Society. He had just announced a political coup over the running of the internet.
Old allies in world politics, representatives from the UK and US sat just feet away from each other, but all looked straight ahead as Hendon explained the EU had decided to end the US government's unilateral control of the internet and put in place a new body that would now run this revolutionary communications medium.
The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.
And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to run it.
But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.
A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.
Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.
But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.
Things I have noticed while watching media coverage of the recent hurricanes.
1. Texas: Productive industrious state run by Republicans. Louisiana: Government dependent welfare state run by Democrats.
2. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves. Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them.
3. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their citizens and property. Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property.
4. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order. Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.
5. Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city. Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves.
6. Texas: Local police watch for looting. Louisiana: Local police participate in looting.
7. Texas: Law and order remains in control, 8 looters tried it, 8 looters arrested. Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops.
8. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane. Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters.
9. Texas: Flood barriers hold preventing cities from flooding. Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood.
10. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain. Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area.
11. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3 day supply of food and water. Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3 day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.
12. Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points. Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa.
13. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blames Bush. Texas: Media can not find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush.
14. Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials. Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, major infrastructure damage in and around city, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials.
15. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime. Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no direct storm related deaths.
16. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area. Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.
17. Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations. Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations.
18. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas. Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas.
19. Texas: Fuel deliveries can not keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway, need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives. Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can not pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with flood waters.
20. Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger. Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas.
21. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with Governor's backing and support. Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who is responsible.
22. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens. Texas: Republican Senator says "when you call 911, the phone doesn't ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders".
What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government?
Conclusion: Texas cities would be back up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month.
Republicans call for action, Democrats call for help.
What party will you be voting for in the next election?
There are strong suspicions that the bloodshed is being orchestrated with weapons and encouragement from Iran.
The clashes and the arrest of two undercover soldiers was almost certainly triggered by the arrest at the weekend of Sheikh Ahmed al-Fartusi, the leader of the Mahdi Army, a banned militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. He was seized by British troops in a raid that also netted his brother and another colleague. “The operation is the result of an ongoing multinational force investigation that identified individuals believed to be responsible for organising terrorist attacks against multinational forces," said a statement released by the British military on Sunday after the deaths of six British soldiers and two security guards over the past two months.
Al-Sadr’s supporters are known to dominate the local police and can mobilise gunmen or mass protests at short notice, as they did regularly during an uprising last year that swept across southern Iraq.
British officials are convinced that Iran is implicated in the upsurge in violence and suspect it may be connected to Britain’s hardening position against Tehran’s nuclear programme. Britain has been working closely with Iran over the past two years to reach a compromise. But with the victory last month of the hawkish President Ahmadinejad, Iran has hardened its position.
Britain is now actively lobbying to have Tehran referred to the UN Security Council, where it could face sanctions.
Iran’s policy in Iraq is co-ordinated by the Supreme National Security Council — the body responsible for running its atomic industry. “The Iranians are careful not to be caught," a British official said. “But they like to stoke up the temperature in Iraq when it suits them."
Apart from the activities of al-Sadr’s supporters, military intelligence has concluded that Iran has been supporting a local terror group run by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, who is blamed for the murder of at least 11 British soldiers.
In a secret report, military intelligence warned commanders that attacks on British forces were being deliberately intensified, with the use of a new bomb, developed in Iran, that can penetrate the thickest armoured protection.
Al-Sheibani’s group is said to have an estimated 280 fighters, divided into 17 bomb-making teams.
One of al-Sheibani’s bombs, a passive infra-red device, is blamed for the deaths of Second Lieutenant Richard Shearer, 26, Private Leon Spicer, 26, and Private Phillip Hewett, 21, of the Staffordshire Regiment, in the Risaala neighbourhood of central al-Amarah, near the Iranian border in July.
A similar roadside device was used six weeks ago against a British embassy convoy in Basra that killed two British bodyguards.
The report, drawn up by British and US experts, said that al-Sheibani’s group was being investigated for its role in the murders of six Royal Military policemen in June 2003 by a mob in Majar al-Kabir.