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.
Projecting an image of being politically and culturally on the cutting edge, the UAE carefully picks its battles. Participation in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq, has projected the Emirates as a military force to be reckoned with. Soccer is the Emirates' next target.
I'm all for films, as Jafar Panahi says in his latest Taxi, showing here in Berlinale: "All films are worth watching; it just depends on your taste." But perhaps I wish, deep down inside, as a human being, that our collective taste was just more about peace and love. Without so much blood, so many guns.
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's efforts to lend legitimacy to parliamentary elections scheduled for this spring have gotten off to a murky start with the appointment of a controversial, reportedly United Arab Emirates-backed human rights NGO as one of five foreign election monitors.