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No sense of time - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We as Arabs always tend to do everything – or most things at least – at the last minute.

We are ready to pray just moments before the call to prayer, we pay our taxes on the last day of the due date, Ramadan television shows are filmed only a few days before the start of the holy month – as if the date has crept up on us by surprise, and we book trips for our summer holidays with our credit cards after all the plane seats have been reserved!

This is a way of life; the last minute way. It is totally distanced from a sense of time, the importance of timing and the need to plan in advance. Europe, the US and other developed countries are not infected by this “unawareness” of time; the citizen there starts planning for his retirement from the beginning of his first job, through a retirement insurance policy. Sometimes he even pre-books the retirement home he will live in, and a good example of this is when retired Americans buy up small apartments in advance in Florida, famed for its hot sun and beautiful weather. Foreign governments have sovereign wealth funds in order to cope with financial emergencies, and part of these are used to secure the future for coming generations.

Industrialized countries are storing oil in their territories strategically, in anticipation of any unexpected emergency that may occur with their sources or energy-transfer routes.

International research centers are planning for climate change scenarios that may occur on Earth in 50 years from now, and are undertaking important research in order to reproduce seeds, plants and even animals to provide enough food for the planet’s inhabitants, with birth rates expected to double.

I recalled all this when I thought about the current state of Egyptian politics, where the following issues are currently prominent:

1. The Supreme Constitutional Court reviewed the constitutionality of the political isolation law, on the eve of the presidential elections held this month.

2.The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave a 48 hour deadline (expires today) to the political forces, after much time has been wasted for many months, in order to provide a list of names for the constituent assembly.

3. There is a continued state of ambiguity over the balance of power between SCAF, constitutionally responsible for managing the affairs of the country, and the parliament with its legislative authority and control.

This means that Egypt may have an elected president within 15 days who so far does not have a clear mandate. Then we will wake up suddenly one morning to discover that all these issues must be resolved now!

This is a scary thought.