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Delegations, crowds and aged cigars!

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

It’s said that if you visit a country, the behavior of drivers, the extent of cleanliness in public parks, squares and means of public transportation are the best indicator of the people’s morals and culture as you cannot gather and test every person and family there.

This standard seems logical and convincing in general, but more specifically, how can we test the awareness, mentality and intellect of special “elites” that manage the affairs of the country and its people, i.e. the politicians and those who are in charge of the people’s security and livelihood?

How can we read preliminary indicators about these elites?

I do not know, perhaps by observing how they benefit from the public treasury to serve their own personal luxuries in terms of travelling, general delegations, cars, bodyguards and fake jobs for their followers and entourage at the expense of the state’s public money.

There’s no need for so much talk about revolution, liberation, independence and civilization. Just observe the level of traffic discipline, cleanliness of public parks, the cost of travelling delegates, the brand of ties, the aroma of the aged cigars and all the luxuries being paid for from the state’s wounded treasury

Mashari Althaydi

A different mindset

When an Arab president assumed his post as president, he reportedly told his tribe and townspeople: If I exit the presidency and there are still poor people among you, I will direct my gun to the temples of your heads!

Emirati author Nasser al-Dhaheri wrote about this topic in his recent column in Al-Ittihad newspaper. He cautiously said: “I was told that China’s population is two billion, and it’s increasing, and its economy is one of the strongest economies in the world. The official delegation participating in the UN conference in New York consisted of 17 people from the elite, each an expert in his field. They went to New York on board an ordinary flight on a Chinese plane. (Meanwhile,) Lebanon’s economy is collapsed and it originally relies on others. Corruption has made everyone steal from some and some to steal from everyone. Its population is 3.5 million and it is decreasing due to immigration. The Lebanese delegation heading to New York consisted of 400 people who boarded four airplanes that are owned by the national carrier airliner which submits to the quota system like everything does in Lebanon.”

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Commenting on the joke of Arab conferences of cultural delegations and the “vanguard” of conscious people, which the author have observed for years, he said: “During these several and different Arab conferences, we saw fake ties and a Cohiba cigar that can only be described as a fraud. Even those who just a few days ago at the conference were calling for transparency, human rights and supporting people’s right to determine their fate were smuggling cartons of (imported goods) and evading taxes.”

Hence you intelligent ones, there’s no need for so much talk about revolution, liberation, independence and civilization. Just observe the level of traffic discipline, cleanliness of public parks, the cost of travelling delegates, the brand of ties, the aroma of the aged cigars and all the luxuries being paid for from the state’s wounded treasury.

And God knows best!

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.