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Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars

The New York TImes's new article on life in Dubai seems to support the idea that extremism comes as a consequence of scarcity:

“There is not going to be somebody who has a grudge against the system,” said Tarik Yousef, dean of the Dubai School of Government. “You might have a problem with something, but there’s enough to make you happy. You have a job — and the mosque is open 24 hours.”


3 comments on “Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars

  1. Certainly some truth to that, but can we always expect to go ‘Up Up Up,’ and if there is a downside eventually (to life, romantic relationships, and financial markets) how do we cope with that eventuality?

    I’m more interested in the coping mechanisms for bad times than what people do when they are doing well. As you said before, everyone is pretty nice in the MacDonalds as long as they have a burger.

    But what if they don’t?

  2. I’ve been thinking about what you say here all day… you are so right and this is so important. It is hard to think one’s way out of affluence, though. Economically, spiritually, politically, etc., my habit is to build a world that protects against want. And we can do that, to an extent. But never fully.

    If we speak of dialog, I think of it as a luxury, something you do while you can, while nothing truly dear is at stake. It helps prevent future conflict. But when the time comes for “coping,” I don’t think there’s any alternative but communitarian ethics. We have to depend on what we are and where we stand.

    I think your comment goes to the heart of our conversations lately—while I am in the maze of affluent New York and you travel the world more itinerant-like, our perspectives are different. Our ideas of what is possible are different, as are what we need.

    There seems to be a place for both modes, though neither can work all the time.

  3. I’d be the first to agree that my preferred mode cannot work all of the time for everybody. It does so not even for me, and my proclivity for the itinerant mode may approach the pathological.

    To re-appropriate from economics, what is need is a more comprehensive model of risk management that encompasses both worst case and best case scenarios. I’d imagine our best case scenario would be quite similar and ‘communitarian’ seems as good a name for it as any. But in the world of real world responses and phrases, ‘sustainability’ may be the best of commonly used catch phrases. And once we look at current economic and political practices, can we honestly say with personal assurance that policies practiced (with respect to environment, immigration, nation-building) are sustainable — that is, can they weather the vicissitudes of political shifts, markets, and foreign governments that may have a differing idea of good than we perceive domestically?

    My own answer is certainly ‘No,’ no such assurances exist in my mind. If we cannot even build a government that serves the people better than the Taliban in Afghanistan, what confidence can we have about our other social programs? What is the extent of our ‘rainy day’ planning? Is there any?

    It is personally frightening to me to hear many people say ‘Yes we can,’ when personal observation reveals that in many circumstances (as with the current crisis) those who have shouted that they ‘can’ the loudest now reveal that, in the end, they could not and, in fact, were not creating the miracles that we all wished to believe in.

    What do we do then? For me that remains an open question, but I am troubled by those that respond by increasing the volume of the ‘yes’ instead of remaining ‘open [and] honest,’ in a world where both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ need always to be considered.

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