In his 2001 book ‘Querying Defeat’ Bahraini thinker Mohammed Jaber al-Ansari spoke about Arab intellectuals and their visions of the Gulf, and he cited several statements about Gulf people. His work is significant because he lived through several phases and he is knowledgeable in the field because he witnessed the times when other Arab countries suffered from economic and political problems following years of colonization and due to problems resulting from military coups and different governments. At the time, Gulf countries were at their peak of wealth due to their resources of oil and minerals as the revenues from the latter allowed the government to spend more.
Ansari also cited a statement by Abu Yarub Marzouki who said that the people of the Gulf only care about food. Marzouki is well-known for his valuable translations and writings but his political lapses have become many, particularly when he talks about Bedouins or the Gulf people in a racist or superior way. Nothing justifies this superiority which he cheerfully adopts.
On April 28, 2011, journalist Turki Aldakhil interviewed Marzouki during his program ‘Edaat’ and he asked him about the statement which Ansari attributed to him. Marzouki’s clarification of the statement actually proved his opinion as he cheerfully said this description of Gulf people is “the stereotype about Gulf tourists in the West,” adding: “This is how some Arabs also portray them.” Marzouki thus strengthened this stereotype and normalized it.
Following American President Donald Trump’s historical visit to Saudi Arabia and following the summits held with King Salman, Saudi and Gulf leaders and representatives of more than 55 countries, Marzouki made disrespectful and racist comments via Twitter. He said: “An alliance cannot be between the protector and the protected but between two parties with independent projects that are equal in ambitions; otherwise, partnership does not have any meaning. Dwarves do not ally with giants.”
This statement echoes the words of several Arab intellectuals who compete over the awards of Gulf institutions and conferences and who look forward to being awarded by Gulf leaders. They regard the Gulf’s wealth and resources as too high and are under the illusion that they are more educated and smarter than societies in deserts. Their approach is superior and it does not harmonize with their alleged philosophical visions. All their theoretical visions collapse under their deep hidden grudges as they despise societies whose history is as ancient as other Arab societies. Most of those who criticize the Gulf actually live in countries that are at the same level as the countries they insult, if not less. Meanwhile, the Gulf never criticized someone who came from a country that humanity is grateful for.
Some of the countries were these critics come from are drowned in corruption as they suffer from economic deterioration and are almost categorized as “failed countries.” They are a lesson to others in terms of debt, economic need, financial recession and educational regression.
Not only that but many of these critics speak out and lecture about the way the Gulf spends their money. Yes, Saudi Arabia sealed deals worth billions of dollars with the US, the strongest ally in the world. These deals serve military, economic and industrial purposes. Saudi Arabia paid these amounts from its own money and from the revenues of its own resources of oil, gas and minerals. Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world and it is the only Arab country in the G20. It has a strategic weight as represented in the two holy mosques.
When the superpower and our major ally, the US, came to Saudi Arabia, it discovered oil and we have been enjoying its wealth since then. It allowed us to travel across the world as tourists and students. However, the grudges of people in countries that are rich in water resources and greenery eventually surfaced and they began to envy us for our land’s resources. Our land once burnt us with its heat but its oil brought wealth to its people.Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Saudi Arabia’s financial wealth will increase. The Saudi kingdom has areas which are rich in oil and gas and that are enough for coming generations.
Saudi Arabia sealed these deals mainly for the interest of its land and people. Among all the causes which Arabs whether nationalists, leftists and Islamists brag about, Saudi Arabia’s primary cause is related to its own interests. What comes second is based on humanitarian reasons or for charitable purposes. Saudi Arabia simply does not expect repayments from anyone.
When this land was a mere desert that lacked resources and only lived off trade, merchants traveled from one country to another and many became blind due to smallpox or died of fever. People in the north and east lived off the resources of rivers and agriculture and off the aid from the state. Our desert drowned several times and the people maintained their dignity and never begged for a donation from anyone. They rather climbed the hills to escape the heavy rain and inevitable death.
When the superpower and our major ally, the US, came to Saudi Arabia, it discovered oil and we have been enjoying its wealth since then. It allowed us to travel across the world as tourists and students. However, the grudges of people in countries that are rich in water resources and greenery eventually surfaced and they began to envy us for our land’s resources. Our land once burnt us with its heat but its oil brought wealth to its people. Back then, Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani showed his true color in his poorly-written poem ‘Love and Petroleum’. He mocked the smallpox disease which harmed our grandparents in the Gulf during the years of drought. His racist poem said: “Unbridled camel of the desert, and you whom smallpox nibbled your face and wrist.”
The time of this outdated nationalism and calls for unity is over. It is time for making alliances with beneficial superpowers that have civilized, moral and economic values. It is time to ally with countries that add value and that do not represent a burden. We ally with America which is the strongest country throughout history. Man is proud of allying with it. America is the greatest ally we benefited from as it was not an ally for blackmail or consumption purposes. It is an ally that taught the entire world values which improved people’s lives.
Yes, we made investments with America, and we shared a lot of money with it – our money. These bounties are for our people and country. Each country has its resources and each must invest in its own resources. Spare us your criticism and racist statements. Journalist Othman Al Omeir eloquently commented on all this saying: “We’re heading toward the future with the people of the future.”
Each society must thus figure out whether it will do the same or launch its work with the powers of evil, terrorism and darkness.
This article is also published in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.