Land greed drives Arab fury
Revolutionary spirits are boiling over across the Middle East.
Mubarek of Egypt has fallen; Gaddafi is washing the streets of Tripoli with good Libyan blood.
The problem is the division of wealth: citizens live in abject poverty while a handful who won the ‘birth lottery’ live lives beyond the dreams of avarice.
These countries have substantial natural endowments – most are significant oil producers enjoying record revenues.
The most telling expression of this plutonomy is land use. Wealthy people like to own lots of land. They try to monopolize it if they can, if government is weak or corrupt.
Anti-government forces in Bahrain have cleverly used satellite images from Google Earth to graphically show the contrast.
The rebels estimate the illegal distribution of property to be 200 square km since independence out of the island’s 665 square km total land area, about 30 per cent of Bahrain’s total area worth some US$ 60 billion!
Arab cities lack even the basic facilities we take for granted in the West – education, health care, sewerage, water, building standards and on and on.
The royals live alongside. Their giant palaces nestle in irrigated manicured gardens surrounded by high walls and efficient security.
No wonder the Arabs are angry!
The Bahraini government has since obliged Google to blur the detailed satellite photos. I wonder why?