WHEN you study the conditions of Arabs particularly the Gulf nations or Kuwait to be precise, you will feel frustrated about the grim picture being witnessed everyday, either in terms of the democratic deviation from its correct course, or the economic decline that is racing to the point of suffocation.
It appears that the Arabs do not learn from others or at least from the experiences of others. Therefore, they end one crisis to enter into another that is more complex. This is happening at a time when the democratic movement in Kuwait is regressing and the rate of corruption and lawlessness is spiking up.
We see a country, which is much smaller than Kuwait, does not possess any natural resources, and gained its independence from Britain in the year 1968, entering the club of rich countries just less than three decades later. Its per capita income rose from $ 400 in the late 1960s to $19,600 as per the 2019 World Bank figures.
I am talking here about the Mauritius archipelago. The total area of all its islands does not exceed 2,500 square kilometers. It has a population of 1.266 million people who adopted agriculture as a means of livelihood. The illiteracy rate was about 70 percent before independence, and it is below ten percent today, after the state made education its primary mission.
In this relatively small country, there is no distinction among its people based on religion. All Muslims, Hindus and Christians live in a unified society.
Given the fact that Muslims constitute 20 percent of the total population, in 2015 they elected Dr. Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, a Mauritian politician and biodiversity scientist, as the sixth President of Mauritius.
However, she officially resigned from the position of President of Mauritius in 2018 mainly due to conflicts of interest and allegations arising from her involvement as the Director of a private organisation Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in funding private expenses using a credit card and holiday trips financed by PEI.
Her resignation was based on an accountability process that did not differentiate between a high ranking official and a common citizen. She was succeeded by President Paramasivum Pillay “Barlen” Vyapoory (Hindu) as the Acting President of Mauritius.
In the year 1992, the state worked on diversifying the sources of income, and launched a group of service projects, rendering it the first in Africa, through a commercial infrastructure, an advanced investment law, and a transparent legal system that made foreign investment in the country very advanced.
Its economy became increasingly diversified, and its private sector is active in sugar production, tourism, and various economic and financial services aspects, accounting for more than 72 percent of the GDP. Today, 90 percent of its citizens live in homes that they own.
In this regard, I would like Kuwait to benefit from the plans and schemes of this archipelago in resolving its housing crisis, which has existed for nearly 60 years and continues to be a predicament.
Kuwait can even learn from Mauritius in the areas of economic openness, investment and health care, and mandatory education. It works based on transparency and seriousness, and in the absence of “wasta” and fraud.
During a press interview with one of the Mauritian university professors, he asked about the principal wealth of a country, and he said, “Destruction of any nation does not require nuclear bombs or long-range missiles, but rather it is enough to have poor education, allowing students to cheat, and turning a blind eye on forged certificates.
This means, a patient dies in the hands of a doctor who succeeded by cheating … buildings collapse in the hands of an engineer who succeeded by cheating … we lose money in the hands of an accountant who succeeded by cheating … religion dies in the hands of a cleric who succeeded by cheating … justice dies in the hands of a judge who succeeded by cheating … lack of peace and security happens in the hands of a police officer who succeeded by cheating … and ignorance spreads in the minds of children in the hands of a teacher who succeeded by cheating.
Therefore, we give great importance to the quality of education, and do not allow corruption in our educational institutions”.
This is how the countries are run … by national wisdom and responsibility, and not by favoritism, and tribal, religious, or partisan affiliations. This is because everyone works for the sake of the nation, and the country thus grows through development and prospers. It does not get threatened of a collapse any day because of an official who wanted to take possession of everything.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times