March 15, 2005

Bahraini Bloggers Free; Bahrain Starts Liberalization

The bloggers arrested for operating www.bahrainonline.com and for expressing unacceptable political views online have been freed. I blogged on it just a few days ago here.

In addition, Bahrain is making more accomodation for freedoms like speech and dissent.

The Gulf States are WAY beyond most of the Arab world monetarily (except Yemen, an extremely poor country when measured by GDPpc) from their oil wealth. Contrary to the perception of many, most of the oil-rich Gulf States could maintain quite high living standards wealth even if oil became worthless tomorrow. They diversified in the 1970s and 1980s and have acted to minimize any over-dependence on oil.

They have high standards of living, great wealth, skyscrapers, restaurants, Westerners, trade and commerce, Internet service providers, satellite TV, and many of the luxuries of the West. They also have, in the words of one of my college professors, "social spending that would make a Scandinavian blush." What's interesting is that their wealth has made them rather more open than other Arab countries.

What we've been seeing the last few weeks and months is happening most in the worst countries - approximately. This is not an exact line, but notice how the biggest stories happen in the worst places. Iraq is in turmoil with a horrible tyrant, untold thousands disappeared or murdered, and then elections.

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