Three decades ago angry young men changed the rules of the game in the Middle East. They deposed the Shah of Iran, attacked and took over Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca and then hordes turned into jihadis to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Oh God!” were the first two words that appeared on the profile page of an Arab Facebook acquaintance as thousands of people set out for the Tahrir Square in central Cairo last month to demand an end to president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.From there on he regularly updated his page, at times wondering where the revolt was headed to and at others expressing solidarity with his Egyptian friends. So did millions of other Arabs, as they worked to bring down the second long-lasting president in the region.
Two years ago, as Dubai sank into the financial quicksand sending jitters across the world, three young Arabs sat sipping tea and smoking “sheesha” at a plush hotel in the Emirate and wondered what had gone wrong. Who could be faulted for bringing to an end the huge money rush that had made so many of them so very rich in so short a time? Could they blame unfriendly foreign powers, or a government that subsidized their lives but did not allow them to openly question it?