Those Arabs. They donâ€™t have much to be proud about. Do they have beautiful women? We wouldnâ€™t know â€“ theyâ€™ve got them hidden behind veils.
Have they invented anything new lately? Not much. They didnâ€™t even invent suicide bombing — that was invented by the Tamil Tigers.
Who are their great writers? Well, theyâ€™ve got this poet Adonis, but I havenâ€™t heard of a J.M. Coetzee or a Toni Morrison or an Orhan Pamuk (Turkish, not Arab) sprouting from their ranks.
Do they have a great moral leader — a Gandhi, a Mandela, a Dr. King, some luminary whoâ€™s made a significant difference in Arabia in the last 50 years? No. They had a bunch of Saudi princes who used to gamble oil fortunes away in Monte Carlo a few decades ago. Thatâ€™s about it.
Do they have a great artist — an Andy Warhol or a Damien Hirst or an Anselm Kiefer? Nope.
Do they have wonderful governments, who make good laws, serve their people well, and establish ways to run their societies that we can learn something from? Er, no. Theyâ€™ve got theocracies and dictators who lock their people up and buy everyone off with oil money. In fact, in some oil-rich Arab states, the Arabs donâ€™t work: they import Indians to manage the country and Philippinos to do the work.
Do they make good cars, or design fine fashion, or produce famous wines, or create great cheeses, or stage excellent theater, or come up with beautiful furniture?
Persian carpets. Thatâ€™s what they do. They havenâ€™t been able to add one more product to this lineup of one for the last eight thousand years. Unless you want to count belly-dancing.
Iâ€™m trying to think of famous contemporary Arabs besides blowhard politicos like whoever the Americans have put in charge of Iraq these days, or ideologues like Bin-Laden — and the only one I can think of is that Saudi prince who invests in the West and is stinking rich.