"There is one simple question that, to my best of knowledge, no one has as yet has raised in Jordan: is there any prospect for the economic situation to improve next year?" asked Fahd al Fanek in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai. If a survey were undertaken in this regard, the majority would most likely express pessimism and expect a dim economic outlook in 2010.
In 2009, economic indicators were inconsistent in Jordan: some positive, others negative. With a partial recovery of the world economy, there is a likelihood that the overall economy will heal as primary estimates indicated positive growth next year of no less than 4 per cent. Such sectors as tourism, imports and exports are also expected to increase, which will cushion this year's budget deficit.
With a low inflation rate of 4 per cent, the government and the private sector will to offer the usual salary raises to safeguard a minimum standard of living for the low income segments of society.
There is a great hope, though, that next year will be better as many development programmes - halted as a protective measure during the height of the financial meltdown - will be resumed as banks are showing signs of recovery.
The recent call by Lebanon's speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, to abolish political sectarianism has prompted a heated debate among various Lebanese political forces, wrote Bassam al Dhaw in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. This step should not be seen as new one because the proposal was first mentioned in the Taif agreement of 1989, which stipulated the formation of a national commission for the abolition of sectarianism.
Mr Berri's call was met by fierce opposition by all influential political forces. "But what are the motives behind such a reaction? The main reason lies in the interrelated political interests which govern Lebanese politics. If the proposal were implemented, it would bring into being great changes that would affect three main areas: the composition of government authority, the system of political values, and the nature of social and economic relations in Lebanon." As a result, the state would replace the sect and be the standard for rule. This would also lead to the cancellation of the present quota system of governance. Any change would directly affect the individual interests of the current political elite.
"We cannot go back in time and demand that our mothers stay at home to take care of their families and children from dawn to dusk as they used to do in the past," remarked Fadheela al Muaini in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan.
Mothers in the UAE used to be the first to wake up and the last to go to bed. During the entire day, the mother was busy preparing meals for all members of the family and making sure that everyone was around the table for the main course and for tea. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to keep to that routine because of time constraints. Members of the family can barely meet once a day around the dining table.
Takeaway snacks and restaurants have replaced the traditional gathering to savour a homemade meal and have a pleasant family chat.
Because of modern life's requirements, members of the same family are living under the same roof, but they rarely meet or socialise.
Such a social "dislocation" needs to be addressed by the Federal Demographics and Emiratisation Council. Measures to be taken should include, for instance, reorganising women's working hours so that they can have ample time to take care of their children and better manage the household.
"Two Palestinian leaders are capturing popular attention at the current stage. The first, Marwan Barghouti, is behind bars, and the second, Mohammed Dahlan, is the media official of the Fatah movement. In the middle, Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestinian Authority, is shuttling back and forth between Latin America and the Arab countries, noted Subhi Zuaitar in a lead article for the Saudi paper Al Watan.
Mr Barghouti, detained for his role in the two intifadas, enjoys the wide support and respect of all Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas. If he is released today in a prisoner exchange deal, he will definitely be the future Palestinian president. He will also be able to help in solving a great many of the pending issues between the two major Palestinian political forces. If he stays in detention, that will benefit Mr Dahlan, who has always aspired to the presidency since the era of Yasser Arafat. It will serve him right if Mr Barghouti remains away from the political scene and if conflicts between Fatah and Hamas continue.
Both men have the same political affiliation, yet their popularity varies greatly, and this makes the difference. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi firstname.lastname@example.org