From futile to fertile
It is no secret that Hassan bin Talal preferred to give up the throne of Jordan rather than his liberal views. He was crown prince between 1965 and 1999. Then the current king replaced him after a whisper campaign tainted Hassan as too independent of western-US influence.
Today, he makes his audience laugh when he says that he cannot apologise enough for being born a prince. "No one is perfect," he adds to prolong the guffaw.
Hassan loves to call himself a non-government organism (NGO) and continues to espouse causes closest to his heart. His dream is that of a community where the majority is wealthy enough to enjoy clean energy and water.
In Vienna recently, Hassan talked of the benefit of regional cooperation involving civil society, governments, businesses and investors.
The challenge in the Arab world is to develop a framework that moves from consumption to production, reintegrates work and wealth, replaces politics with policies that focus on human development. He talked of bridging the distance between the mind and heart, of a grand coalition of the caring and, above all, an end to casino capitalism.
He worried over efforts to maintain the world's oil supply, despite despair among majority of Arabs who are not necessarily all Muslim. Christians, Jews and ethnicities astounding in cultural differences are all part of the Arab world.
The despair in the Arab world is born from the choice the people face between mass unemployment and social collapse offered by the public sector and environmental collapse and intolerable inequality offered by the private sector. He reminded the world that by 2050, the number of unemployed Arabs will reach 55 million, an army of hatred and frustration.
Oil gas reserves of the Arab Gulf states and Iran total 60 per cent of the world's gas reserves and 30 per cent of its production. The primary destination of world's oil is Europe and the USA. He regretted grand designs for building oil pipelines but no grand design for the people who live beside the pipelines.
It is a geo-strategic anomaly that the choke points of oil are situated in regions populated mostly by Muslims, giving the area the name: Islamic crescent of crisis. The mushrooming of oil pipelines is a serious reality. The world's demand for oil continues to proliferate. The energy demands of India and China in the next 25 years will rise by 40 per cent and the Arab Gulf states together with Iran are expected to fulfil at least half of this demand.
Hassan warns of future security vulnerabilities related to global energy that could well be played out on the waters of the Indian Ocean. More than 60 per cent of the world's oil will pass by sea to the possible resurrection of sea pirates similar to the terrorists of today.
However, the futile can be transformed into a fertile crescent if wealth generated from oil is shared. This is a moment to cultivate a communal spirit, to recognise the importance of the other, to be less egotistic and more compassionate. It is time for a Social Charter, a legal covenant for the just distribution of resources and coordinated financial investments in human security.
The global financial slowdown is a unique opportunity for regional investment and reform. It is a time to embark on cooperation and security beyond borders. Neighbours around the world can collaborate in the fields of water, energy and the environment and focus on building trust, cooperation and security, cultivating cooperation in agriculture, industry, information and education.
Trust, cooperation and collective decision making can only lead to lessening of political tensions, including that between Israel and Palestine, Iraq and Iran, and Lebanon and Syria.
Today the dialogue of believers with the creator is full of compassion, conviction and love. However, the dialogue of human beings with each other is full of hate. Nationalism has only encouraged neighbour to hate neighbour and both share a common hatred for each other's history. This is a time to spend money on alms, and not arms. The billions of dollars spent to keep people out of certain regions of the world is cultural insensitivity.
The focus is poverty. Economies await transition from services and real estate orientation to people as partners on the planet. Globalisation without humanism is a brutal assault on lives as thousands of military tanks ravage the desert in the Middle East.
Security has been the order of the day since 9/11 but it is ironic that the security of the majority is allowed no dialogue or discourse.