The other day a colleague told me he was really excited to see how his students would react to a short story he had given them to read.  “They’re not going to read it,” I predicted.  He didn’t believe me.  Sure enough, the next day no one had read it.  “How did you know?”  he asked.  “What are you, some kind of psychic?”
Well, if you believe that deducing that students wouldn’t read a piece of literature for fun makes me psychic, here’s my psychic predictions for the Middle East in 2011.  Prepared to be astounded by my far seeing abilities.
1.    There will be no one-state, two-state or any state solution to the Palestinian crisis.

2.    Jordan, still reeling economically from the invasion of Iraq, will continue to charge more for monthly home heating than the average laborer’s salary, helping maintain, along with all with the rest of the Levant and North Africa, the Arab world’s status as the place with the highest youth unemployment rate.

3.    No one will still know what the heck is going on in Iraq, especially those who say they do.

4.    Someone with the last name Mubarak or very close to someone with the last name  Mubarak will be the president of Egypt.

5.    Qaadafi will say or do something bizarre.

6.    More malls will open in the Gulf while “Preserving our Rich Heritage” will continue to be the national rallying cries.

7.    Muslims at these malls will ask “Why do they hate us?” when talking about America and smoking shisha in their New York Giants baseball caps.

8.    There will be more “biggest,” “tallest,” “most expensive,” or other Guinness Record-like creations in Dubai and beyond.

9.    An increasing number of Arab parents will talk to their kids in English rather than Arabic, no matter how “fery” good or “fery” bad their English is, but unconsciously revert back to Arabic when they need to yell at them.

10.    Zaatar will begin to replace hommos as the latest Middle Eastern food of to become trendy, celebrated and Americanized.

11.    Lebanon will party on, ignoring false grumblings of civil war brewing.  (Predicting Lebanon defies logic and psychics so I’ll go with wishful thinking on this one)

12.     The Middle East will remain a troubling, fascinating, unstable, safe, wealthy poverty stricken, happy, sad place.


I’m opposed to making lofty new year’s resolutions–aside from the token and easily forgettable “I’ll try to eat less chocolate”—as

New Year Resolutions for the Middle East

they sometime trivializes a dream.  But I’m happy to make resolutions for others, kind of like the UN.  Here are my new year’s resolutions for the Middle East, and I know they’re laced with loftiness and high expectations, and they probably need to be broken down into baby steps, but they wouldn’t be new year’s resolutions any other way.

1.    People stop smoking like life is a 1950s film noir or a 1970s disco.
2.    People put their cigarette buds, candy wrappers and other litter paraphernalia in the trash can they’re leaning on rather than toss it on the sidewalk.
3.    Let there be water—not just water to drink and help plants grow, but the kind that doesn’t make your hair fall out in shower.
4.    It would be a bit over the top to ask people to follow traffic rules, but maybe they could stop honking incessantly for no apparent reason.  And in relation to that, people should resolve to stop triple parking in back of your car when you’re already late for work, forcing you to honk your horn incessantly for an apparent reason.
5.    Let falafel, hommos and fuol continue to be affordable for everyone when so much else isn’t—and that they remain the best darn fast food man has invented.
6.    People will learn history here didn’t begin with an oil well or Al Qaeda.
7.    Crowded out Cuba won’t have to share its place on the TSA’s “terror prone lands” with more than the 13 Middle Eastern countries already joining it.
8.    Let electricity outages remind us that technology responds to the human condition it lives in.
9.    The word  “inshallah” continues to be a satisfactory answer to most questions.
10.    The peace wins, inshallah, not just people’s hearts and mind, but also on their streets, litter and all.