Memri quotes an article in the Syrian government daily Teshreen, in which the former Syrian information minister Dr. Mahdi Dakhlallah asks some of the right questions.
In the early 60s, if a person took a taxi in Kuwait or in one of the tiny Gulf states, he would hear on the radio a Syrian, Lebanese, or Egyptian song. Today, if one takes a taxi in Damascus, Cairo, or Beirut, he will hear a song from the Gulf [states]. How did this come about? ...
Why has the Arab cultural and media [primacy] passed from the Nile, Syria, and Mesopotamia to the tiny Gulf states?
Why are books published in 50,000 copies in Kuwait, but in [only] 3,000 copies in Damascus?
Why are state-of-the-art satellite stations being set up in Qatar and Dubai, but not in Beirut, Damascus, or Cairo?
Why is the city planning in the Gulf states perfect, while Beirut, Damascus, and Cairo look like large villages or regions that are chaotic and far from perfect?
Why are the streets of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Manama sparkling clean despite the water shortage, while in the streets and on the pavements of Beirut, Damascus, and Cairo one can find anything but hygiene? ...
Why have the Gulf states managed to adapt themselves to the technological and social reality of modern times, while at the same time preserving their traditional Arab culture (e.g. dress), while Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt have adopted only trousers, shirts, and ties? ...
I believe that our problem – whether in Syria, Lebanon, or Egypt – is that we have forfeited the wisdom of desert nomads, without having caught up with the rational and modern ways of the West.”
Syria and Egypt became National Socialist dictatorships, devoted to militarism and a futile quest for grandeur with dirigist, and therefore stagnant, economies. Syria destroyed Lebanon with help from Iran.
The rulers of the Gulf States devoted themselves to falconry, coursing, and hedonism, presiding over more open economies largely operated by guest workers.
The road to Progress seems everywhere to lead through the Palace of Consumerist Pleasure. Militarist statism does not make you rich, happy, or wise.