I think it was Dorothy Parker that updated that old cliche --"you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" with my personal favorite - you can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think. Seems most fitting a phrase in this garish and seemingly silly attempt to buy respectability. This is one of those car wrecks you can't turn away from. The indispensible YOUSSEF IBRAHIM tells it like it is here in The New York Sun;
The United Arab Emirates has made a splash by announcing plans to build four museums at a cost of $27 billion to transform its capital, Abu Dhabi, into what one effusive writer referred to as a "latter-day Xanadu."
If only it were so easy. Even the fabulously oil-rich cannot buy that yearning of the mind and soul called culture with a fistful of dollars.
For years now, Gulf Arabs have confused modernity with tall buildings, sophistication with the ability to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, and true education with the construction of gleaming, albeit vacuous, campuses.
True, in the past four decades Saudis, Kuwaitis, Qataris, Bahrainis, Emiratis, and other oil-rich Arabs have grown accustomed to buying anything. They have bagged whole foreign governments, a few former American presidents, Western businessmen, the best consumer technologies, yachts and palaces, and an entire expatriate workforce to run their countries.
But whenever they have encountered gray matter — questions of taste and the arts — their mercantile approach has crumbled.
One memorable example is the famed $3.62 billion UAE deal with France, struck in 1993, to supply 463 sophisticated Leclerc battle tanks to a country with barely 5 million people, just 10% of them native Arabs. When not enough UAE citizens could be found to man the tanks, they ended up rusting in the desert. Across the Gulf, tens of billions of dollars of modern warplanes, super-duper missile systems, computer centers, and other accoutrements of "modernity" are suffering a similar fate.
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