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No Emergency Summits for Arab Human Development Crisis.


When the first Arab Human Development Report The Arab Human Development Report is published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Description
Arab Human Development Report was first published in 1999 and, since, additional AHDRs were released each year following the 2002 AHDR.
 (AHDR AHDR Arab Human Development Report (United Nations Development Programme) ) was published in 2002, a star glistened in a vast, gloomy sky. The fact that a UN-sponsored report, authored by independent Arab scholars would receive so much attention in Arab media, was in itself a promising start. The fact that such terminology as human security, personal security, economic security, etc -- as highlighted in the report -- would even compete with the largely ceremonial news bulletins' headlines in many Arab countries was in itself an achievement. But then, the star quickly faded, the terms became clichE[umlaut umlaut (m`lout) [Ger.,=transformed sound], in inflection, variation of vowels of the type of English man to men. ]s, and the report, published seven times since then, became a haunting A Haunting is a television series on Discovery Channel that, according to its website[1] chronicles the "terrifying true stories of the paranormal told by people who experienced real-life horror tales.  reminder of how bad things really are in the Arab World “Arab States” redirects here. For the political alliance, see Arab League.
The Arab World (Arabic: العالم العربي; Transliteration: al-`alam al-`arabi) stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the

Those who wish to discredit Arab countries, individually or as a collective, now find in these reports plenty of reasons to fuel their constant diatribes; those who genuinely care and wish for things to improve are either silent or muted.

The last report, sponsored, like the rest, by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNDP Unión Nacional para la Democracia y el Progreso (National Union for Democracy and Progress) 
) was published in July 2009. It was the grimmest. Its statistics are intriguing, although depressing. 2.9 million square kilometers of land in the Arab World are threatened by desertification desertification

Spread of a desert environment into arid or semiarid regions, caused by climatic changes, human influence, or both. Climatic factors include periods of temporary but severe drought and long-term climatic changes toward dryness.
. Natural resources are depleting at an alarming level. Birth rates are the highest in the world. Unemployment is skyrocketing. 50 million new jobs must be created by 2020. Arab oil-based economies leave some Arab countries entirely vulnerable to market price fluctuations or the depletion of oil altogether. While many economies, especially in Asia are shifting or have already achieved great strides into becoming knowledge-based economies, Arab economies are still hostage to the same cycle of oil and cheap labor. In fact, 70 percent of the Arab region's total exports, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the report, is oil.

The problem is not just economic, or environmental, it's societal as well. Inequality is entrenched en·trench   also in·trench
v. en·trenched, en·trench·ing, en·trench·es
1. To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending.

 in many Arab societies. Women's rights The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.

The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and
 are not the only individual rights violated. Men's right are violated too, that is if they are not members of the dominant group, which are either divided by blind political allegiance, tribal or sectarian membership, or economic leverage.AaAa

Admittedly, Arab societies are, of course, not the only societies that suffer from these ills, but sadly, the problems of Arab countries are most convoluted, accentuated by the fact that there is little action to rectify the problem, neither at individual country's level or using joint platforms, for instance, the Arab League Arab League, popular name for the League of Arab States, formed in 1945 in an attempt to give political expression to the Arab nations. . Why didn't the Arab League hold an emergency summit following the release of the first or even the last AHDR report? One would think that problems of such magnitude, ones that affect the lives of 330 million people, are pressing enough for such gatherings.

Arab media has been highlighting the issue and the shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.

Shortcomings may also be:
  • Shortcomings (SATC episode), an episode of the television series Sex and the City
, some media outlets more than others. But the discussion is largely political, at times a mere attempt at discrediting this government or that leader, and are still conducted in general terms. The latest report for example was supplemented by opinion polls conducted in four Arab countries - Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and occupied Palestine. One need not emphasize the different human development challenges in these countries, situated in diverse geopolitical ge·o·pol·i·tics  
n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The study of the relationship among politics and geography, demography, and economics, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a nation.

 settings. One cannot possibly devise the same solution to a country occupied by a foreign army, to an independent country with untold oil wealth, to a third with immense human potential but dire poverty.Aa

Generalized problems can only obtain generalized, thus superficial solutions. Therefore, it has been summarily decided that the problem lies in lack of education, not the inequitable and unrepresentative Adj. 1. unrepresentative - not exemplifying a class; "I soon tumbled to the fact that my weekends were atypical"; "behavior quite unrepresentative (or atypical) of the profession"  political systems. Education became the buzz word buzz word

Informal a word, originally from a particular jargon, which becomes a popular vogue word

buzz word npalabra que está de moda

, as if education is a detached value; therefore, education cities are erected in Arab countries that can easily afford importing the best teachers and curricula money can buy. More, research institutions are also making appearances in various Arab capitals. Those existing in rich Arab countries are operated largely by foreigners, whose sense of priority lies, naturally, elsewhere. One fails to grasp the wisdom.

But of course, education is a mindset mind·set or mind-set
1. A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.

2. An inclination or a habit.
, a culture even. What is the point of pursuing a PhD in a society where nepotism nep·o·tism  
Favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives, as in business.

[French népotisme, from Italian nepotismo, from nepote, nephew, from Latin
 determines who does what? It's most rational, from a self-seeker's point of view, to spend time knowing and passing one's business cards to the 'right people' than spending years of one's life pursuing a university degree.

UNDP had recently launched "The Arab Knowledge Report 2009", jointly with the United Arab Emirates-based Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum Foundation. Another depressing read, nonetheless. Governments were criticized for paying lip service lip service
Verbal expression of agreement or allegiance, unsupported by real conviction or action; hypocritical respect:
 to 'reform', yet "widening the gap between word and deed." It concluded that Arab countries are far from being knowledge based societies. Numbers and more numbers told the story: Finland spends $1000 per person on scientific research, while less than $10 are spent annually in the Arab world. More, the number of published books averages one for every 491 British citizens, while in the Arab world it's one for every 19,150. But that should not be much of a surprise considering that one-third of older Arab citizens are illiterate, two-thirds of whom are women. Meanwhile, more than seven million children, who should be in school, are not. Illiteracy stands at 30 percent in the Arab world.

Dr. Ghassan Khateeb, of Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank believes that there "is a direct relation between the lack of investment and the problematic situation we find ourselves in relation to knowledge." "This is all related to politics; the lack of democracy and the lack of knowledge enforce each other," he was quoted as saying.

Paul Salem, writing in the British Guardian, while recognizing the failure of Arab governments, found that others are also, if not equally, responsible. "The cost of a single month of Western military spending in Iraq or Afghanistan would be enough to triple total aid for education in the Middle East. The cost of two cruise missiles would build a school, the cost of a Eurofighter a small university."

Alas, some Arab governments, spend twice, if not three times more on their military budget than invest in education. And keeping in mind that nearly one out of every five Arab citizens lives below the poverty threshold of two-dollars a day, the tragedy is suddenly augmented.

Arab governments must rethink and reconsider their current priorities and course of action. They must think and act individually, but collectively as well, before the crisis turns into a catastrophe, as will surely be the case if nothing is done.

- Ramzy Baroud ( ) is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story" (Pluto Press, London), now available for pre-orders on

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Publication:The Palestine Chronicle (Mountlake Terrace, WA)
Date:Nov 4, 2009
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