were four friends of mine and me, in my humble house
inside the old woods. The scent of fresh pine was
charming, a sweet condolence for five Arabs trying to
forget for a while a miserable reality in the Arab
Unfortunately there was no way to do that. One cannot
retire from the real world, migrate from the actuality,
or desert the daily challenge - that of survival as it
unfolds in occupied Palestine or the challenge of a
scorched land that develops in Iraq.
From time to time, we, this Arab generation of thwarted
dreams, try to find a place for joy, a touch of
condolence. We drag ourselves far away to a remote
shade, or glaring sands to slash this mental burden, but
in vein. Our crisis follows us like shades, inhabiting
our suitcase, mocking this effort of false escape that
I have invited a group of English friends to join us and
our discussions were generally covering social and
I can no longer remember exactly what we were saying
when one of them asked about the number of Arab states
that have a social system, which provides government
assistance for families with newly born babies. He meant
financial assistance to help families provide the
additional needs beyond the healthcare, because the
government freely provides the latter not only for every
UK citizen, but also for every resident in the country.
Let me admit that I pretended not to grasp the question
at first instance to hear it again. And my guest
repeated it slowly, in robotic way, stressing on the
expression ďwhen the baby sees the daylightĒ.
Taken by the question, with a manipulating investigative
tone, I asked the guest whether this policy is
implemented in the UK.
In the same quite tone, familiar for the English, my
guest raised his eyebrows listening my manoeuvre and
confirmed that the UK government pays to the families £
60 monthly for every child effective from the first day
of his or her life until 16 years of age, regardless of
the number of children in the family.
Of course, this in no way means that the government is
free of any liability towards these citizens after 16.
There are other responsibilities - it provides them with
free education and healthcare and tries to create new
jobs. Moreover, there are certain establishments,
commissioned to provide career-planning advice and
direct them towards academic qualifications sought by
Letís not forget the social security system for seniors
and the establishments dedicated to their wellbeing.
This is just to name a little of the services
implemented by the UK and other countries catering for
My English guest didnít end his remarks about the
European social systems in general when I began feeling
First, I was full of admiration for these policies
aiming at protecting people from poverty and social
Second, it was bitterly frustrated by what I knew about
deteriorated social conditions in most of the Arab
World. Despite the vast wealth of some of our states and
gigantic natural resources of the Arab lands, the
majority of Arab people lack social security and live in
an increasing fear of tomorrow - a situation alienated
most of the Arabs from their governments whose last
concern is the wellbeing of their subjects.
While in the Arab World billions of dollars are
plundered by some Arabs, the funds in the West are
systemically invested to eliminate poverty and assist
people to afford for their needs.
An endless train of images from all over the Arab and
Islamic World crossed my mind and the general theme is
the same - totalitarian regimes that put the interests
of their peoples at the bottom of their priorities.
It is a matter of fact that the Western nations achieved
those vast strides of development only after they
fulfilled the needs of their citizens and provided them
with the socially secured environment that could nurture
creativity and productivity.
On the other side of the scale, the nations that aborted
the dreams, frustrated the minds, uprooted the
creativity, suffocated the thought, stolen the
liberties, nurtured the corruption and deepened
alienation are at the bottom of our world.
When would our Arab and Muslem states wake up to the
reality and reconcile with their people?
Itís not too late.
Adding to this bitter situation, the Arab private sector
doesnít go ahead to bridge this gap or to counter
balance the government imbalances, or at least to
In this regard, I donít exempt even some officials of
the Palestinian Authority, from the responsibility of
this plunder. Belonging is the sense of commitment,
sacrifice, partnership and benevolence. Itís not an
escape of whatsoever responsibility.
Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor