June 29, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10050

Palestinian Journalist: The Arab And Muslim World Is Mired In Backwardness, Light Years Behind The World's Rapid Development

June 29, 2022
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 10050

In his February 2, 2022 column in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, journalist 'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh contrasted the scientific breakthroughs taking place in the world today with the situation of the Arab and Muslim world, which he said is mired in backwardness, chaos and internal strife, stemming from an obsolete thinking and hostility towards the West. If this situation persists, he said, the Arab peoples may find themselves in danger of extinction.

'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh (Source:

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]

"Over the last two decades, scientists have made great strides in all areas. Some [of the developments] changed our lives completely, while others brought about a smaller change, but all of them had a significant impact on the future of humanity, laying the foundations for a completely new era and a historic turning point. Just as the steam engine launched the Industrial Revolution and the discovery of electricity led to the invention of countless apparatuses, the internet launched the era of the information and media revolution.

"The achievements of this [20-year] period, a very short time in the life of humanity,  are even more important than the achievements of the previous eras. Their significance lies in their potential to bring change, just like the earlier inventions and discoveries…

"The following is a summary of the most important achievements [of the last two decades]. The most significant, and also the most expensive, was the establishment of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, on the border between Switzerland and France, built through the most extensive international scientific cooperation since [the construction of] the international space station.  [Housing] the world's largest particle accelerator, 27 km long, it is meant to provide a better understanding of the emergence of the cosmos by simulating the Big Bang…

"In the realm of space [exploration], the giant James Webb Telescope was recently launched into orbit and will replace the Hubble Telescope. It is the fruit of 25 years of labor by scientists from NASA and the Canadian and European space agencies, and it is hoped to provide answers to many questions that have preoccupied humanity… Scientists have also discovered the closest planet to earth that may be hospitable to life, although it is very far away, and a black hole has been photographed for the first time, in the center of a faraway galaxy. The Phoenix space probe landed on the surface of Mars… and took detailed photos of the Red Planet… while the Voyager I Space probe continues its journey to the edges of the cosmos…

"The most important medical development, which will take biology to another level, is the complete mapping of the human genome, and the discovery of the molecular structure of human [DNA]. This breakthrough allowed the development of synthetic biology, and scientists have managed to create the first living organism using synthetic DNA… Also in the field of medicine, American and Japanese scientists managed to clone human stem cells from skin cells, in a way that does not violate any ethical principles and ensures that the body will not reject them. Using these stem cells, they developed the first complete cure for diabetes. The first artificial heart was developed as well… as well as a smart prosthetic hand that can be controlled by the mind.

"In the realm of technology, there were incredible breakthroughs in the area of carbon nanofibers, artificial intelligence and robotics; the 3D printer and Bluetooth technology were  developed… as well as smart surfaces, virtual keyboards, touch screens, smartphones, social media and audiovisual media. Ecommerce is thriving, and distributers like Amazon and Alibaba have emerged. Electric and hybrid cars, as well as self-driving cars, are being made, Google has mapped every part of the [planet] and all its road systems using GPS, and the G5 internet has arrived…

"If we go into detail, we will find dozens of additional important inventions and discoveries. But more important is that we [Arabs] understand our situation compared to the world. Where do we stand, and where are we headed? How far can we go?...  It is important to give some profound thought to our local reality and remember our [own] achievements in the last [20] years, [namely] the growing corruption of the Arab regimes, which triggered the Arab Spring revolutions that produced a reality no less corrupt. Throughout these years and before them, we have been mired in backwardness, chaos, civil war, bombings, terror, tribal and sectarian conflict and the reduplication of totalitarian regimes. This is due to the fact that we refuse to even acknowledge the problem and are unable to understand its essence, for we are trapped in an obsolete Salafi mentality and are hostile to the entire world, refusing to integrate in the [global] human culture. The truth, gentlemen, is that we Arabs and Muslims are isolated from the world and from reality, light years removed from the train of progress. True, many recent inventions and discoveries were produced by Arab scientists, but they were made in laboratories and research centers located in the 'infidel' West. If we stay on this course, we will be among the peoples in danger of extinction."


[1] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), February 2, 2022.

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