“Time” magazine named founder of the social networking website Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, its” Person of the Year” for 2010, fending off fierce competition from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This got me thinking about who were the Arab world’s most influential figures in 2010; however there are numerous such lists and awards focusing on various fields, which inevitably means that they lost some of their credibility.
Therefore instead of writing an article about the most important and influential figures in the Arab world, I thought it would be better to focus upon the most important events that have affected the region this year as it is clear that this year has been full of unexpected events and issues.
There is the issue of the “indictments” that the Hariri tribunal in Lebanon is expected to issue soon. These are likely to include indictments against figures implicated in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and other Lebanese politicians and media figures. This is an issue that has resulted in a tense situation and threats of violence being issued by some political parties in Lebanon. This news has been blown out of proportion thanks to the media coverage that it has received, and as they say in the world of Lebanese politics, this is “a lot of noise over nothing!”
Next, there was the issue over the “formation of the Iraqi government” which was formed, then dismantled, then re-constructed, amidst strange and confusing internal scenes. This also saw the entire world, from neighboring countries to distant ones, interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.
There is also the scene in Sudan, where we are expecting to bid farewell to the country as we know it, amidst news of the expected separation. The forthcoming referendum is expected to have only one outcome, namely the secession of southern Sudan.
As for surprising news, there was the announcement of Qatar winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This news shocked the world and has been subject to much debate, with people questioning Qatar’s ability to host such a huge event, as well as the anger of the countries who lost the bid to such a young state.
Of course, there is still talk about the footballing war between Egypt and Algeria. In fact, Doha recently witnessed the heads of the Egyptian and Algerian Football Associations reconciling after these two countries proved that sport is not a question of a winner and a loser, but rather a matter of life and death!
We must also mention the issue of climate change, and the unexpected and unprecedented weather seen in many Arab countries. We have seen sudden heavy rainfall and severely cold temperatures in places in regions that have never experienced this before, as well as a tremendous and record-breaking heat wave. As a result, television weather reporters have become the “stars of the screen’, with their coverage overshadowing political, sport, cultural and economic news.
Of course there is also the issue of terrorism and extremism. An alarming number of people implicated in terrorist cells and networks have been arrested, and everybody is now waiting for the leaders of these groups to be captured as well. It is these ringleaders who are the major problem, and the source of this plague.
Arab parliaments have also featured heavily in 2010. We have seen parliaments divide over issues that are absent, as well as decisions that have been passed. All the while people become more and more frustrated.
2010 is nearing its end, and we have seen a number of controversial events and issues…many things that were expected to change did not, and we hope that in 2011 we will see signs that will enliven the public, not age them.