Rating: 2/5 Stars
Tarek Heggy’s The Arab Cocoon aims to examine the Arab mind and why the region is void of real progress and modernity. By evaluating the lack of modernity in Arab nations, Heggy poses key questions necessary for scholars and creative thinkers seeking to offer a remedy to an ongoing dilemma.
Surprisingly, Heggy also criticizes American intellectuals and their primary approach to solving these problems. Heggy goes on to argue that the Arab world doesn’t need politicians, but executive managers capable of delivering the same transformational leadership to a country that they do to a business. Critical of intellectuals alone, Heggy views the group along with politicians as theorists, whereas he sees executive managers as being able to effectively implement theories into success stories.
With considerable historical knowledge, Heggy guides readers through a cause and effect relationship in the role nations play – with the burden of failures ultimately carried by the people. Interestingly, with his own twenty year executive business background, Heggy emphasizes a discussion on economic political systems. He speaks mainly of Egypt, but shows how lessons learned there are applicable to the state of most Arab nations as well as Pakistan. This emphasis on business, economics, and Egypt could leave some readers mislead who were otherwise hoping for a more encompassing view of the Arab mindset.
Heggy also effectively targets three primary reasons modernity is lacking in the Middle East: 1) constraint of a widespread anti-modernity and anti-integration Islamic movements, 2) constraint of the out-dated education systems, and 3) constraint of the unhealthy hatred of the ‘other’.
While I appreciate the business perspective Heggy offers, I would have favored seeing a more in depth discussion tackling these three factors. Still, The Arab Cocoon is a must read for readers who want to move beyond Islam and learn there’s more to the problem than just religion.