A dear Palestinian friend once remarked to me in despair that Palestinians are not liked and looked down upon by Gulf Arabs. Why? Because Gulf Arabs are wealthy and think because they are rich that they are better than Palestinians (and for that matter all non-Gulf Arabs).
First a point of order: Gulf Arabs do not dislike Palestinians (let alone hate them) for any reason. All Arabs and Muslims for that matter strongly support and have enormous admiration, love, and respect for the Palestinian people for all that they have done and for all that they have suffered. The Palestinian people and cause receive wide-spread support in the Arab world, united almost all Arabs (and, again, Muslims) and is on the top of the ‘Arab agenda’.
But one can admire a people and still be smug toward them. That is what my Palestinian friend was saying. Gulf Arabs (and here I only refer to some individual [since of course not all Gulf Arabs share the same views] in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates) do behave in a manner as if they are the better Arabs in the flock simply because they have money. Unlike, say, Tunisia, they can afford huge skyscrapers and 7-star hotels. If as this was seen as exemplary of their technological advances and virtue.
If only. Gulf Arabs, and I myself have encountered this, need to rid themselves of their delusions. The wealth exhibited in the Gulf is not do to the industrial efforts of the people there (which would be admirable, like in the United States and France) but due simply to the fact that Gulf Arabs were born on a nice piece of real estate. All their wealth and everything thing that has come from it (all those nice toys) are due not to any real economic productivity, but all is due to oil.
Gulf economics are supported almost exclusively on oil and on the high price of oil, for that matter. From where do those Gulf Arabs who fancy themselves better get their arrogance? From their ability to dig a whole in the ground and suck oil out? Wealth this is worthy of respect is wealth created in nations through their peoples ability to produce products without natural resources but through the educational abilities. Wealth that is due to God is a gift from God and does not entail any superior qualities of the recipient.
Further, what has the Gulf produced other than oil and Islamic fundamentalism (we can thank the Saudis for the latter as well)?. Almost all Arab poets are from outside the Gulf (including until his death a few weeks back, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was the greatest living Arab poet), the Arab film industry is outside the Gulf and the few Arab non-oil corporation with global reach are also outside the Gulf. So, then, consider the oil and then ask: after that what makes the Gulf special?
For me, besides being the land where Islam was born and housing the two most holiest sites in Islam (Mecca and Medina, respectively), there is nothing special about the Gulf.
And let’s not forget how they have spent their oil money. Funding corrupt lifestyles, bailing out American firms, funding incredibly generous welfare states that have made their people shiftless and poorly educated, and funding (and this applies only to Saudi Arabia) of Islamic extremists.
And, finally, if Gulf Arabs are so much better than why do they import skilled labor from outside their region. Historically and even till this day, Gulf nations import their skilled labor from other Arab nations (and also, though this is less so now, from America).
Let’s not be impressed by Gulf wealth.