Pay attention to the following trends in the community: urbanization, bureaucracy, size of social classes, the severity and weakness of civil institutions, the rate of political invasion and obstruction, abundance and economic recession, rule of law, and secularism, religiosity and separationist, trust and deregulation, from the sociological point of view can be somewhat recognizable and aware of the fact about these trends and their future Gained. But contrary to the notion that at the end of the nineteenth century, the sociology of today does not claim that it can definitely predict the “movement of the entire society” (including Iran).
Today, sociology explicitly and modestly states that one cannot predict from the scientific standpoint an end to the future of society. There are many reasons for this humble sociology, one of which is reflexive, more so than society.
Communities are more likely to be exposed to information and awareness and respond to their interests in response to this awareness, and this reflection, and subsequently the redevelopment of individual and collective life (and especially the unintended consequences of individual and collective behavior of social actors) makes it difficult to predict a community called community.
According to the above introduction, the question arises as to how the sociology of medicine is affected? The answer is that although sociology cannot predict the “movement of the whole society,” as mentioned, it can describe and explain the status of important trends within society (examples of which are mentioned).
Even though sociology cannot make a definitive statement about the future of the entire Iranian society, different and possible situations can be empirically guessed (based on the existing trends of the society) and through this possible knowledge of the active and sympathetic forces of society can take into account the general situation of society To a more favorable position. One of the ways that helps us examine the current situation and speculation about the future status of the entire movement is to let us say that this community is moving in its direction (towards the future, in light of the visible features (or trends) of the Iranian society) Which of the really existing communities in the world is approaching, but this method requires more explanation.
The society and its movement towards the future are not solely due to the will and the plan of individuals and groups in the state apparatus (even within the state apparatus, there are usually conflicting plans and plans for shaping society), but due to The result is the activity of active forces in the government as well as active forces in society.
It is subtle that active forces in society and the government are cooperating, competing and hostile to maintain their position in the hierarchy of society, and in their challenges constantly examine the situation and change their behavior, so each one of society They are killing one another. Therefore, the future must come as a result of various forces in society. If we look carefully, the precise study of these forces within the community, especially considering the reflection, rethinking and reproduction of society, is not an easy task in terms of empirical evidence, and it is almost impossible. One of the ways to overcome this problem is to compare the studied community with the status of a number of really existing societies, in other words, to see if the Iranian society has a general interest in terms of its characteristics. One of the really existing communities is getting closer.
Now, with this introduction, our main point in this article is that the movement of Iranian society is a challenge between what happened in Cuba and South Korea. Therefore, we will first try to describe the characteristics of the two concepts of the Cuban and South Korean type in relation to the Iranian society. Then we will explain how the South Korea definition is closer to today’s reality in Iran.
What does Cubanism mean?
Iran, like Cuba (through its neighbors on the Iraqi border on the Gulf and Afghanistan’s borders), is a neighbor of the United States. Both countries are in constant controversy with the United States (Cuba has fifty years and Iran thirty years). At the home of the Cuban government, for over fifty years, the patriotic policy and opposition to the mechanisms of political development have been well nesting. Anti-American propaganda is the main essence of its official propaganda.
In Iran, populist politics and pessimism have become rooted in the mechanisms of political development, and anti-American politics is the official form of Iranian propaganda. The eight years of foreign policy of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s government during the period of construction (1988-1986) and eight years of foreign policy based on Khatami’s confidence-building during the reform period (2004-1984) failed to win over the foreign policy of anti-American propaganda and normalization.
Cuba, as a country that embodies the fight against America, is dominated by Latin Americans, especially among the poor in the region, and it is counting on this influence. Iran is also influential as a manifestation of the struggle against America among the people of the world, especially among the poor of the Islamic countries, and is extremely pleased with this influence.
But both Cuba and Iran, despite the influence of the world’s poor, cannot use this popular influence at the United Nations to draw the attention of the effective members of the United Nations (while defending their national interests). For example, at the beginning of the year2007, Indonesians were hooraying for the presidency of Iran, but the country’s envoy voted in the UN Security Council to issue a resolution against Iran (No. 1747).
Cuba, despite the constant struggle with the United States and having gained political independence, is among the less developed countries of Latin America, and countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Chile have a more developed status than Cuba, and are more effective in real equations of the region and the world. Iran, despite fighting with the United States and gaining political independence from its similar countries, is far behind the Islamic countries like Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
After over 50 years of its revolution, Cuba has become an illiterate society in terms of raising the standard of living of its people, which means that it has some weaknesses in some of the trends.
Cuba, for example, has grown dramatically in terms of rural development, healthcare and sugar cane industry, but has gained other indicators such as GDP growth, per capita income, increasing growth, brain drain, growing prostitution, weakness of civil institutions, media And the independent parties have a terrible situation. But other countries in the Latin American region, such as Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, have a much better status than Cuba in terms of the trends.
Iran, after thirty years of revolution, has been promoting the quality of life of people in the society. As an example, Iran has made significant advances in the development of military, general and excellent education (especially in women), the expansion and spread of health and health skills, rural development, the strengthening of economic infrastructure and the political recruitment of people. On the other hand, Iran is suffering from social dangers such as six million marginalized populations, twelve million people below the poverty line, more than four million unemployed, between two and five million drug addicts, an increasing erosion of moral values among people, especially the prevalence of distrust in the relations between people with the government. There is also a steady and growing flow of elites and financial resources of the country abroad, with a massive and non-government state of three million diaspora
The United States has followed Cuba’s policy of isolation in the last 50 years. Although the United States was able to militarily hit Cuba, it seems that the United States is a sign that wants Latin Americans to show the effectiveness of state socialism. The United States has followed Iran’s isolation policy, although it has not been able to isolate Iran like Cuba, Iran has not been able to improve its position vis-à-vis countries like Turkey and Malaysia. In other words, Iran is leading in the fight against America among Islamic countries, but in terms of its development, it is not currently a leader.
The South Korea meaning
1) South Korea’s position on South Korea against Japan and North Korea (which is also atomic) is a sensitive position and should be able to defend itself. Therefore, after World War II, the military and security forces in South Korea have played an increasingly important role, and Iran is also threatened by Western countries (America and Britain), Israel, and even Russia.
Therefore, the role of the military and security forces in this Arab country (Iraq, the time of Saddam) has been increasing. As there are currently some 5 million Iranian people in some way (full-time, part-time, part-time or volunteering) available to the country’s security forces, Iran is among the most armed countries in the world for personnel.
2) In South Korea, over the past 20 years, these were military forces that did not see the real power in South Korean military power alone, and to gain economic power (compared to Japan’s and China’s economic strength) for the South Korean leadership in the region and World recognized. Therefore, Korean military commanders moved to the barracks from the 1960s onwards and supported Korea’s ongoing policies for economic development (and, to some extent, political development).
But in Iran, the involvement of a number of security agencies in electoral affairs and economic affairs (rather than contractors in the private sector) and the lack of support for a part of the country’s security carriers from the policies of economic and political development of Hashemi and Khatami’s government in the past indicate that the process of economic development And Iran’s political system does not enjoy the undisputed support of all the security forces of the country. However, the adoption of the 20-year vision of Iran aimed at gaining superior power among the countries of the region, and the announcement and commitment of the government to the implementation of Article 44 of the Constitution on the strengthening of the private sector shows that the government in Iran as a future design also important Development of Iran, especially economic development, is not overlooked (although in practice the process is not accelerated and generalization is strengthened instead of privatization. In Iran, to be successful, it should not be fought in a competitive and efficient market, but somehow it should be rented the oil was connected to the government).
(3) South Korea has faced and is growing with the growth of the workforce (the growth of the new and most skilled middle class). Iran is faced with a growing skilled labor force, and the most important factor in responding to this massive demand is Iran’s entry into the ongoing process of economic-political development (labor migration abroad is neither possible nor appropriate). Is). South Korea cannot retreat from its neighbors (China, Japan, Singapore, etc.), and Iran cannot ignore the growing progress of Islamic countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and the Gulf states.
4) Korea’s spatial orientation (its neighbors with China and Japan) places the energy reserves of the Middle East, Korea and Iran at the center of US foreign policy attention. But South Korea faces interactive policies with the United States, and Iran has entered a policy of counter-propaganda.
The Challenge of Iranian Society
Given some of the similarities of Iranian society with Cuba and South Korea, we can illustrate the movement of Iranian society in the challenge between one of these two patterns. This means that a large part of Iran’s society (especially the growing and educated middle class) and a part of the elites in the Iranian government know the path to confronting backwardness, unemployment and poverty in the development of Iran (such as South Korea), so that Iran No more left than countries like Turkey and Malaysia.
On the other hand, part of the Iranian elite in the government, with the continuation of American-style advertising on the international scene and the hypocritical and hypocritical policies of the interior, especially with the hope of attracting the votes of 12 million people below the poverty line, oppose the development processes of the country. By relying on their oil bureaucracy, they keep themselves in the political arena.
But the consequence of their work is to slow down the development and retention of Iran from similar countries, such as Turkey and Malaysia. It should now be clarified how will Iran move towards South Korea in the challenge of Cubanization or South Korea’s rise to the Middle East?
The first condition is the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear file in the international system, especially with the United States in the short term, because if the current situation continues or the current situation changes to serious crises resulting from the sanctions, the process of Iranian cubism will be accelerated. . In this sense, Iran becomes the center for the spread of anti-American propaganda in the world, and the poor people of the world are caught up in these anti-American stances.
But internally, because of the impossibility of moving the country in line with the 20-year perspective, one of which is the annual economic growth of over 8% (now less than 5%), the development process of the country has slowed down, and the number of addicts, the unemployed, The poor (and the increase in the size of a group that is subject to dense social damage). In other words, in such a situation, the Iranian papal elites are chanting against global arrogance, and in front of our people, they have to burn and to build the system.
The second requirement is to play all Iranians in the development process of the country, that is, South Korea, the lower classes, the middle and upper classes, all should be encouraged to participate in the development process of Iran (at least within the framework of the twenty year perspective). As long as elite elites make poor strata against the upper and middle strata, instead of strengthening the private sector and the middle section of society (civil institutions, the press and independent parties), they are pleased with the presence and support of street people in the streets. Instead of developing the country, the process of Iranian cubism in the region will be strengthened.
The third is the direct connection or the two previous conditions, and that the patrolling of the elite and the military and clerical elites of the country is a mechanism of democracy until the elections in Iran are manipulated in various ways and as long as the elites are free and They will be forced to take anti-American slogans against this monopoly and, as a result, lead Iran to further Cubanism. From this perspective, the election of the eighth Majles and the free and fair amount of holding it is a good indicator of how far Iran is being drawn.
Individuals and groups that make Iran Cuban (unfortunately, during the ninth era, this process has been accelerated), it is not bad to know that the main forces of Iranian society do not want to be Cuban and think of a development that is grateful to Iran. .
It is subtle that Iran’s Cuban bearers are not only opposed to the development of the country, but also face Iran with unwanted situations. One of the unwanted situations is that the current disagreements (among women, teachers, students, workers and relatives of Iran) turn into inconsistent opposition and confront the Iranian government with uncontrollable crises. While economic and political development, free and fair elections, and resolution of problems through reforms, channel the legitimate demands of the strata and, instead of slowing down the country’s development process, adds to its speed.
It seems that the advent of Iranian society on the roof of the world (which the people are promising) and the advent of the Iranian society to the state of social collapse (which is part of the critics of the status quo) are not the likely destiny of our society, but The probable fate of the Iranian society should be sought in a situation between Cubanism and South Korea.
It is wise to keep all the compassion of the Iranian society (both governmental and non-governmental) from expanding the Iranian society from the Cuban pattern of the Middle East. Of course South Korea’s pattern in the Middle East does not mean parading the community. All modern societies, including South Korea, are faced with a variety of crises and challenges, and should constantly identify these crises and act to curb them. But the difference between Cuban or South Korea is that in the former, the number of unemployed, addicts, the poor, sex workers and depressed people is increasing.
Who are the real betrayers of Egypt, Critics or Sycophants?
“You are betraying your country by exposing its defects!” is a common accusation made by the sycophants to the ruling regime in Egypt who have managed to well situated themselves in our society simply by blindly praising the ruler’s policies. Apparently, these sycophants place a higher value on the privileges that they have gained to living in a truly advanced nation. In fact, the real betrayers of any given authoritarian nation are those who justify this immoral ruling mechanism for their own personal gain.
Despotism is the evilest ruling mechanism ever devised; apart from its cruelty and unfairness, it works on inflating the ruler’s ego by mirroring his thoughts that are always passionately endorsed by his flatterers, regardless of their merits! Meanwhile, the ruler’s manipulation of the entire political sphere impairs the state’s ability to detect and correct its blunders. Concurrently, the harsh and inhuman treatment of the state’s critics, which includes threats to their personal lives, results in spreading fear throughout the entire society.
A successful strategy for running a country ruled by a tyrannical government is to enable ignorant citizens to dominate the state media exclusively, thus empowering them to express their opinions on a much wider scale than knowledgeable citizens. This approach consequently creates significant friction between knowledgeable and ignorant citizens, resulting in the polarization of the entire nation. The state methodically fuels this process by labeling the mediocre as loyal citizens and accusing its critics of treason.
The privileging of sycophants financially, along with advancing their power and upscaling their status, have prompted many Egyptians to join this beneficial club, which prerequisites praising superiors and justifying their faults, thus compensating for the natural dullness and incompetence of the flatterers. Meanwhile, the state’s critics who demand freedom and stand by their values are aware that they are engaged in a long-lasting battle and are risking their lives for generations to come!
In fact, sycophants are the weakest link in the state’s ruling dynamics. They hypocritically heap intense praise on the security apparatus who sacrifice their lives to defend our nation – but do their utmost to ensure that their youngsters abandon their military duty; just one facet of their deceitful conduct. Sycophantic behavior and false testimony are the most sinful acts in Islam; yet they have become, ironically, a habitual pattern of behavior in our social norms.
That Egypt needs to be ruled by an Iron-fist is a common argument put forth by the flatterers. It is translated into applying harsh measures to critics and laxity toward lawbreakers – a proposition that reflects the low moral values espoused by flatterers to secure their status. The policy of maximum repression adopted by the current ruling regime might be successful in controlling society; however, it has certainly contributed to an escalation of terrorism activities by political Islamists against the military apparatus.
In my former party, the Egyptian Democratic Front, a few executive party members used to instantly report our internal discussions to the State Security apparatus. In addition totheir immoral conduct and betrayal of their peers, they used to enhance their ratting out by exacerbating our opposing political stands. I argued, at that time, for either offering those ratters a crash course on “minutes-taking” or inviting the State Security apparatus to participate in our meetings to better learn about our viewpoints.
“Cairo is a dirty city” – a painful remark that I occasionally hear from international visitors to our capital. The Egyptian State will never be able to manipulate the perception of millions of diversified tourists who visit Cairo yearly, but we can easily work to bring order to our city and live in a hygienic place. The same applies to other qualities of life such as freedom, dignity and justice; we need to highlight deficiencies in these areas to be able to advance our nation.
President Al Sisi has a clear desire to be a remarkable leader; he believes that expanding our roads and building new flyovers will make Egypt an advanced nation and that these developments will be credited to his legacy. The president is unaware that the future of our country will be written and judged by the youths of today, who are extremely angry with him due to his policy of demolishing humanity and freedom, compounded by his inability to create decent jobs for youngsters.
Egypt is currently confronting a number of complex internal and external challenges, including an economic slowdown, a civil war on our eastern borders, a potential water shortage due to the filling of Ethiopian GRED and rising unemployment. All of these challenges, and many more, will simply be intensified by our deep polarization, further weakening the state. The sycophants’ deliberate misleading of Egypt concerning these challenges is dragging our nation downward, transforming us into a fragile state.
Advancing an old-fashioned country like Egypt requires honest citizens who have bold ideas and enough courage to implement their ideas. These qualities are found more among knowledgeable citizens and critics of the state who are already sacrificing for their country; large numbers of them are spending their best years in prison simply for having voiced their opinions. Modernizing Egypt will require our president to unite our nation, appointing well-educated citizens to key positions and completely discarding state sycophants.
Israel-China Relations: Staring Into the Abyss of US-Chinese Decoupling
Israel knew the drill even before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boarded his flight to Tel Aviv earlier this month four days after the death of his father. It was Mr. Pompeo’s first and only overseas trip since March.
Echoing a US warning two decades ago that Israeli dealings with China jeopardized the country’s relationship with the United States, Mr. Pompeo’s trip solidified Israel’s position at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide.
Two decades ago the issue was the potential sale to China of Israeli Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). Israel backed out of the deal after the US threatened withdrawal of American support for the Jewish state.
This month the immediate issue was a Chinese bid for construction of the world’s largest desalination plant and on the horizon a larger US-Chinese battle for a dominating presence in Eastern Mediterranean ports.
Within days of his visit, Mr. Pompeo scored a China-related success even if the main focus of his talks with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was believed to be Iran and Israeli plans to annex portions of the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Israel signalled that it had heard the secretary’s message by awarding the contract for the Sorek-2 desalination plant to an Israeli rather than a Chinese company.
The tender, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.
China’s interest in Israel is strategic given the fact that the Jewish state is one of the world’s foremost commercial, food and security technology powerhouses and one of the few foreign countries to command significant grassroots support in the United States.
If there is one thing Israel cannot afford, it is a rupture in its bonds to the United States. That is no truer than at a time in which the United States is the only power supportive of Israeli annexation plans on the West Bank.
The question is whether Israel can develop a formula that convinces the United States that US interests will delineate Israeli dealings with China and reassure China that it can still benefit from Israeli assets within those boundaries.
“Right now, without taking the right steps, we are looking at being put in the situation in which the US is telling us we need to cut or limit our relations with China. The problem is that Israel wants freedom of relations with China but is not showing it really understands US concerns. Sorek-2 was a good result. It shows the Americans we get it.” said Carice Witte, executive director of Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership (SIGNAL) that seeks to advance Israeli-Chinese relations.
Analysts, including Ms. Witte, believe that there is a silver lining in Israel’s refusal to award the desalination plant to a Chinese company that would allow it to steer a middle course between the United States and China.
“China understands that by giving the Americans this win, China-Israel relations can continue. It gives them breathing room,” Ms. Witte said in an interview.
It will, however, be up to Israel to develop criteria and policies that accommodate the United States and make clear to China what Israel can and cannot do.
“In order for Israel to have what it wants… it’s going to need to show the Americans that it takes Washington’s strategic perceptions into consideration and not only that, that it’s two steps ahead on strategic thinking with respect to China. The question is how.” Ms. Witte said.
Ports and technology are likely to be focal points.
China is set to next year takeover the management of Haifa port where it has already built its own pier and is constructing a new port in Ashdod.
One way of attempting to address US concerns would be to include technology companies in the purview of a still relatively toothless board created under US pressure in the wake of the Haifa deal to review foreign investment in Israel. It would build in a safeguard against giving China access to dual civilian-military use technology.
That, however, may not be enough to shield Israel against increased US pressure to reduce Chinese involvement in Israeli ports.
“The parallels between the desalination plant and the port are just too close to ignore. We can’t have another infrastructure divide,” Ms. Witte said.
The two Israeli ports will add to what is becoming a Chinese string of pearls in the Eastern Mediterranean.
China already manages the Greek port of Piraeus.
China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) is looking at upgrading Lebanon’s deep seaport of Tripoli to allow it to accommodate larger vessels.
Qingdao Haixi Heavy-Duty Machinery Co. has sold Tripoli port two 28-storey container cranes capable of lifting and transporting more than 700 containers a day, while a container vessel belonging to Chinese state-owned shipping company COSCO docked in Tripoli in December 2018, inaugurating a new maritime route between China and the Mediterranean.
Major Chinese construction companies are also looking at building a railroad that would connect Beirut and Tripoli in Lebanon to Homs and Aleppo in Syria. China has further suggested that Tripoli could become a special economic zone within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and serve as an important trans-shipment point between the People’s Republic and Europe.
BRI is a massive infrastructure, telecommunications and energy-driven effort to connect the Eurasian landmass to China.
Potential Chinese involvement in reconstruction of post-war Syria would likely give it access to the ports of Latakia and Tartous.
Taken together, China is looking at dominating the Eastern Mediterranean with six ports in four countries, Israel, Greece, Lebanon, and Syria that would create an alternative to the Suez Canal.
All that is missing are Turkish, Cypriot and Egyptian ports.
The Chinese build- up threatens to complicate US and NATO’s ability to manoeuvre in the region.
The Trump administration has already warned Israel that Chinese involvement in Haifa could jeopardize continued use of the port by the US fifth fleet.
“The writing is on the wall. Israel needs to carve out a degree of wiggle room. That however will only come at a price. There is little doubt that Haifa will move into the firing line,” said a long-time observer of Israeli-Chinese relations.
Will Gulf States Learn From Their Success in Handling the Pandemic?
The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic for Gulf states has done far more than play havoc with their revenue base and fiscal household. It has propelled massive structural change to the top of their agenda in ways that economic diversification plans had not accounted for.
Leave aside whether Gulf states can continue to focus on high-profile, attention-grabbing projects like Neom, Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion USD 21st century futuristic city on the Red Sea.
Gulf rulers’ to do list, if they want to get things right, is long and expensive without the burden of trophy projects. It involves economic as well as social and ultimately political change.
Transparency and accurate and detailed public reporting go to the core of these changes.
They also are key to decisions by investors, economists, and credit rating companies at a time when Gulf states’ economic outlook is in question. Many complain that delays in GDP reporting and lack of easy access to statistics complicates their decision-making.
Nonetheless, if there is one thing autocratic Gulf governments have going for themselves, beyond substantial financial reserves, it is public confidence in the way they handled the pandemic, despite the fact that they failed to initially recognize crowded living circumstances of migrant workers as a super spreader.
Most governments acted early and decisively with lockdowns and curfews, testing, border closures, repatriation of nationals abroad, and, in Saudi Arabia, suspension of pilgrimages.
To be sure, Gulf countries, and particularly Saudi Arabia that receives millions of Muslim pilgrims from across the globe each year, have a long-standing history of dealing with epidemics. Like Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, they were better prepared than Western nations.
History persuaded the kingdom to ban the umrah, the lesser Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, in late February, days before the first case of a Covid-19 infection emerged on Saudi soil.
Beyond public health concerns, Saudi Arabia had an additional reason to get the pandemic right. It offered the kingdom not only an opportunity to globally polish its image, badly tarnished by human rights abuses, power grabs, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but also to retain religious influence despite the interruption in the flow of pilgrims to the kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia is still a reference for many Muslim communities around the world,” said Yasmine Farouk, a scholar of Saudi Arabia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
It also allowed Saudi Arabia to set the record straight following criticism of its handling of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 when the kingdom became the epidemic’s epicenter and in 2009 when it was hit by the H1N1 virus.
Saudi Arabia is also blamed for contributing to a public health catastrophe in Yemen with its frequent indiscriminate bombings.
A country in ruins as a result of the military intervention, Yemen has grappled for the past four years with a cholera epidemic on the kingdom’s borders.
Trust in Gulf states’ handling of the current pandemic was bolstered by degrees of transparency on the development of the disease in daily updates in the number of casualties and fatalities.
It was further boosted by a speech by King Salman as soon as the pandemic hit the kingdom in which he announced a raft of measures to counter the disease and support the economy as well as assurances by agriculture minister Abdulrahman al-Fadli that the crisis would not affect food supplies.
Ms. Farouk suggested that government instructions during the pandemic were followed because of “trust in the government, the expertise and the experience of the government [and] trust in the religious establishment, which actually was following the technical decisions of the government.”
To be sure, Ms. Farouk acknowledged, the regime’s coercive nature gave the public little choice.
The limits of government transparency were evident in the fact that authorities were less forthcoming with details of public spending on the pandemic and insight into available medical equipment like ventilators and other supplies such as testing kits.
Some Gulf states have started publishing the daily and total number of swabs but have yet to clarify whether these figures include multiple swabbings of the same person.
“It is likely that publics in the Middle East will look back at who was it that gave them reliable information, who was it who was there for them,” said political scientist Nathan Brown.
The question is whether governments will conclude that transparency will be needed to maintain public confidence as they are forced to rewrite social contracts that were rooted in concepts of a cradle-to-grave welfare state but will have to involve greater burden sharing.
Gulf governments have so far said little about burden sharing being allocated equitably across social classes nor has there been transparency on what drives investment decisions by sovereign wealth funds in a time of crisis and changing economic outlook.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a Gulf banker warned that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “needs to be careful what he spends on . . . Joe Public will be watching.”
Headed by Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund has gone on a $7.7 billion USD shopping spree buying stakes in major Western blue chips, including four oil majors: Boeing, Citigroup, Disney, and Facebook. The Public Investment Fund is also funding a bid for English soccer club Newcastle United.
The banker suggested that Saudi nationals would not appreciate “millionaire footballer salaries being paid for by VAT (value added tax) on groceries.” He was referring to this month’s hiking of sales taxes in the kingdom from five to 15 percent.
The fragility and fickleness of public trust was on display for the world to see in Britain’s uproar about Dominic Cummings, a close aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who violated lockdown instructions for personal reasons. Mr. Johnson is struggling to fight off demands for Mr Cummings’ dismissal.
To be sure, senior government officials and business executives in the Gulf have cautioned of hard times to come.
A recent Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey of CEOs predicted that 70 percent of the United Arab Emirates’ companies would go out of business in the next six months, including half of its restaurants and hotels and three-quarters of its travel and tourism companies.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan warned earlier this month that the kingdom would need to take “painful” measures and look for deep spending cuts as a result of the collapse of oil prices and significantly reduced demand for oil.
Aware of sensitivities, Mr. Al-Jadaan stressed that “as long as we do not touch the basic needs of the people, all options are open.”
There was little transparency in Mr. Al-Jadaan’s statements on what the impact would be on employment-seeking Saudi nationals in a labor market where fewer migrant workers would be available for jobs that Saudis have long been unwilling to accept.
It was a missed opportunity considering the 286 percent increase in the number of Saudis flocking to work for delivery services.
The increase was fueled by an offer by Hadaf, the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, to pay drivers $800 USD a month, as well as a newly-found embrace of volunteerism across the Gulf.
The surge offered authorities building blocks to frame expectations at a time when the kingdom’s official unemployment rate of 12 percent is likely to rise.
It suggested a public acknowledgement of the fact that well-paying, cushy government positions may no longer be as available as they were in the past as well as the fact that lesser jobs are no less honorable forms of employment.
That may be the silver lining as Gulf states feel the pressure to reinvent themselves in a world emerging from a pandemic that potentially will redraw social, economic, and political maps.
Author’s note: This story was first published in Inside Arabia
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