- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All Arab countries and their people are not the same. Stark differences in terms of social, educational, and economical levels. Different historical backgrounds have shaped the future of these nations in sometimes surprising ways.

Take Egypt. Many poor families take their children out of school and send them to work. According to the Daily Star, about 2.7 million children (about 10 percent of the under-14 population) work in agriculture or in menial jobs, such as servants, or selling tissue papers at traffic lights.

It is socially acceptable for families to use their children as breadwinners. And it is a social reality that many of them are homeless kids, exposed to abuse and drugs.

The other extreme can be found in the Dubai. The Public Transportation Agency has inaugurated the first

air-conditioned bus stop. With a contract of about $4 million, they are planning to build more of these bus stops, equipped with ATMs, vending machines and recycling bins. It does get pretty hot in the UAE and the authorities want to integrate public transportation, so they figured that’s the way to do it.

If you have the money, why not, it is a great idea. But put this picture next to the other, and the whole thing becomes ironic … and a more than a little sad.

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