In recent years, no published novel has received as much criticism, media coverage and cultural scrutiny as Dr. Alaa al Aswany’s ‘Yacoubian Building’. As the majority knows, the novel depicts a dramatic analysis of the political, economic and social conditions of Egypt in the post-revolutionary and subsequent periods. The novel, as well as its events and characters, came to mind as I observed and interacted with the events and sharp changes that are taking place in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. After Palestine, Egypt and Syria had traditionally occupied the headlines in this context, the region became an indirect scene of major political and military events, such as the Iran-Iraq war, the occupation of Kuwait and the recent invasion of Iraq. Undoubtedly, the GCC states came to have the most considerable weight in the economic field, exceptionally influencing the economic trends in the other Arab states. Furthermore, such influence has extended to the cultural sphere, resulting in a tremendous GCC presence in the media and cultural fields in general. All such activity has brought about a clear and significant “variety” of indications in the present reality, including those that are good and benign and those that are destructive and malignant.
There are extremely “heated” issues that are still outstanding, with no positive activity that would ensure a radical solution and smooth transition from these issues to others. The issue of political participation is still pending, where matters swing between frenetic anarchy that devastates political stability, a minimum of which is needed for government performance, and silence and immobility, which made parliaments, regardless of what they are called, vary in roles and performance and hence their expected results. This was not the only variable phenomenon in the GCC states. Poverty has become a normal and familiar word and a reality that needs to be addressed, and the gap is widening between the haves and the have-nots, which shows that development plans have failed at foreseeing and understanding the economic activity and its variables and the subsequent preparation for it.
The people of the GCC states are experiencing happiness and pride in the increasing “permissible” margins of freedom and criticism, forgetting that this state of affair is the natural outcome of the future movement of peoples—this is life. The presence of the GCC states at the heart of Arab events and at the core of the position of leadership imposes on them an unprecedented leading responsibility not only to present themselves as a magnificent economic product but to go further and set up communities that are capable of coexisting with the world, creating transparent, sound, secure regimes that are capable of coexisting with themselves in peace and with others with tolerance. Otherwise the GCC story of success remains an incomplete and distorted one that can only be repaired by extensive treatment.