Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi: A forthright Arab/Emirati

  • 22 June 2011

The Arabs claim they understand everything but they do not read; if they do read, they do not understand; if they understand, they plan but do not implement.”

“Unfortunately, we stick to our pride, which certainly reflects on development in our countries. Our economy will not progress because we are in the midst of an economic environment built on the findings of science, research and experience and not pride.”

 “We do not drink oil, we drink water, and water is our everlasting problem in the Gulf region because our terrain is but dry desert. We rely on desalinating water from the Gulf, albeit at a high cost."

 He emphasizes that water supplies will only meet the needs of 67 percent of the Gulf’s population (with the exception of Oman) by 2015. He quotes UN reports and calls for “considering with caution the cost of relying on desalination of Gulf water, which would near US$25 billion by 2010”;

Dr. Al-Suwaidi compares the Arabs to Israel and noted that the Arabs has failed to invest in creating their own intellectual property. Pride is a real stumbling block to their development and economic progress. If I may add, the Arab attitude is the exact of Singapore and many societies in Asia.

Nothing stands still, for example the Arabs face a looming water crisis which they are yet to do anything about. We know nature will impose its solution if we do not prepare our friendlier alternatives sooner; but before we get to that, wars over water may be what they are staring at. Singapore has been much more far-sighted with our water needs.

The Arabs must learn that oil doesn't save them. It only give them time to find a more sustainable model to build an advanced and prosperous society. Living here, I have am increasingly drawn to the conclusion that even as they diversify their economies, they cannot diversify away from oil in the true sense. That black gold subsidizes their uncompetitive diversification. The same "gold" pays for their unsustainable water resource. As for Dubai, she understands the magical powers of debt as a servant but not its harsh brutality as a master.