a global community
"While the information revolution is proceeding elsewhere apace, the Arab world is falling behind, held back by government failure.When the first Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) was published in 2002, a star glistened in a vast, gloomy sky. The fact that a UN sponsored report, authored by independent Arab scholars, received so much attention in the Arab media was in itself a promising start. That such terminology as "human security", "personal security", "economic security", etc -- as highlighted in the report -- would compete with largely ceremonial news bulletin headlines in many Arab countries was an achievement. But then the star faded, the terms became clichés, and the report -- updated seven times since then -- became a haunting reminder of how bad things really are in the Arab world.Those who wish to discredit Arab countries, individually or collectively, now find in these reports plenty of fuel for 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 UN Development Programme (UNDP) was published in July 2009. It is the grimmest. Its statistics are intriguing, although depressing. Some 2.9 million square kilometres of land in the Arab world is threatened by desertification. Natural resources are depleting at an alarming level. Birth rates are the highest in the world. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Some 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 labour. In fact, 70 per cent of the Arab region's total exports -- according to the report -- is oil..."