Ghazi al-Ghosaibi, Arabian Essays (Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982).
If Ghazi al-Ghosaibi was as competent a minister of industry as he is a judicious essayist, then Saudi Arabia may be somewhat more fortunate in its rulers than might otherwise appear. A poet and observer of international affairs, al-Ghosaibi has produced a set of reflections on literature and education, Middle East politics and Arab society, that are elegant and often perceptive.
Some of his observations are directed at the Arabs, whom he chides for the conventional excesses of religious and nationalist fervor. He suggests that while there is much to criticize in Western culture, the Arabs would do well to study it more closely before condemning it. He also points to some of their own failings — his essay on the “bribeocrat” etches in a figure familiar to many of his fellow citizens. Al-Ghosaibi’s addresses to a Western audience are of somewhat more ingenuous character. Quick to reassure us of the deep Arab hostility to communism, he addresses an open letter to Henry Kissinger on the West’s responsibility for the lack of progress in the Palestine-Israeli dispute. But pertinent as such animadversions may be, especially in the light of the Lebanon experience, they appear to touch only the surface of the US commitment to Israel.
Al-Ghosaibi warns the Arabs that if they do not find a reconciliation of their own and the West’s culture, they will return to the traditional world of tents and dates. Perhaps if he exhibited a little bit more of that critical edge which he warns poets against, the return to the tents would be less likely.