The Economist recently highlighted the contrast between post-revolt Asian societies and Middle Eastern and North African societies in the woes of a pro-longed, messy and bloody transition that is pockmarked by revolt and counter-revolt, sectarianism, the redrawing of post-colonial borders, and the rise of retrograde groups as revolutionary forces.
Perhaps the most significant similarity between the Florence of yesterday and present-day Dubai is their surroundings. Just like Florence was home to the Renaissance when darkness dominated Europe, Dubai is a beacon of hope and enlightenment when we look at what is happening in neighboring Arab and Muslim countries.
Qassem Soleimani, Iranian military leader, ideologue, and commander in chief of the Quds force- a branch of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps that conducts extraterritorial military and clandestine operations- has been coming out of his shell and becoming more vocal in stating his opinions.
The success of the economies of these countries is not only important for their own people, but for the millions of expatriates who work there, sometimes under difficult circumstances, and who annually send $50 billion to their home countries -- making this region the largest source of remittances in the world.
It's often said that you can't get economists to agree on anything. Well, oil economists certainly can't agree on future prices, with commentators suggesting anything from $20 to $200. Seldom has there been such a discrepancy in forecasting, though the median forecasts seem to be somewhere between $60 and $70.
One of the brightest, loudest, flashing neon-style sign that humanity can indeed get along is the upcoming Middle East Now festival in Florence, Italy. Yes, Florence, where that original coming out of the Middle Ages happened hundreds of years ago, is the city I believe could also be at the epicenter of a new cross-cultural Renaissance.
The current Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, designed to prevent Iranian-backed forces from gaining power, symbolizes the Gulf's new assertiveness. This is unfolding as the various Gulf states seek to hedge their bets with different strategies that complement, rather than replace, the regional US security umbrella.
Yet there's something unsettling about this scenario, in which Ukraine buys weapons from the Emirates and Russia sells to and makes weapons with the Emirates. This thriving, happy triangle boils down to very bad news for the civilians facing a protracted war in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.