Want Prosperity and Liberty? Move to Qatar or the UAE
Since 1996 I've spent a great deal of time overseas. Since 2002, I've been in the Middle East. I want to share some impressions and thoughts on economic and social life that you won't learn about unless you flee the United States.
I live in Qatar and I am very happy. I have a good job. I do not pay personal income tax. In fact, no individual in Qatar (Citizen or not) pays personal income tax as far as I know. The Corporate tax rate is 10%in Qatar (12% in the UAE). There is no universal health care. No social security. No value added tax. No Capital Gains tax. No dividend tax. No minimum wage laws. No estate tax. As far as I am aware.
Many Americans falsely believe that Qatar, Bahrain, and the better known United Arab Emirates are fantastically wealthy due to oil. This is a half-truth and a convenient fallacy. It allows Americans to place blame for the shortcomings of their economic system on a magical outside force that is beyond their control.
Oil has certainly increased the wealth of Arab governments. It has not, however, led to an increase in the wealth of Arab populations unless coupled with Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Otherwise, that wealth has been confiscated by the ruling class and the population has remained economically and socially enslaved.
In Qatar and the UAE however, the story is quite different. Not only has laissez-faire capitalism flourished, it has raised the standard of living for all residents, foreign nationals included. These two countries have become the "melting pots." Less than a quarter of their populations are natural-born citizens. Foreign nationals from every country, including America, have higher standards of living than they would back home. Phillipinos, Indians, Bangledeshis, Pakistans, Europeans, and Americans flock to Qatar and the UAE for good reason.
The side effects of this laissez-faire approach are phenomenal. Police brutality is unheard of. Though the official religion is Islam, the rules regarding expression of religious beliefs are clear. There is no religious persecution. Fraud and coercion are practically non-existent. Most people work very hard. There is little-to-no homeless. Medical expenses are easily paid for except for the most significant procedures. Nobody cries about a lack of health insurance. Nobody has the need or desire for forced government retirement funds like Social Security.
The stock markets in these countries continue to boom for multiple reasons. Capital is allocated into productive resources. Oil, while a staple of these societies, is only a small part of the picture now. Money makes money when employed effectively. Hard work and voluntary cooperation in an open market creates wealth. Businesses keep 90% of what they earn, to be reinvested in other endeavors. Individuals keep everything they make, and invest that money as they see fit. Without the government destroying wealth and imposing its will, society is happy and productive. There are no "robber barons." There are no Bernie Madoffs. While fraud happens, as it does anywhere, the fraudulent are more often held accountable than anywhere I have ever lived (and I've been around the block a couple of times.)
Not everything is perfect in these countries of course. There is, after all, still an existence of government and the ever looming threat of foreign governments. Maybe in time the Qatari and UAE ruling classes will react to their loss of control over the lives of their citizens. Maybe a foreign nation will attempt to steal their resources and wealth. Maybe religious leaders will attempt to polarize the populace. Maybe maybe maybe....
But for now, without a doubt, if you want liberty look no further than Qatar and the UAE. It is true that you want have perfect Anarcho-Capitalism as Rothbard envisioned. It is true that you may still get screwed over by a rich Arab with more "wasta" than you. Nonetheless, when compared with the ever burgeoning American/European police state, destructive government market intervention, and overall popular apathy and self denial of American/European Socialist culture, I'll take life in Qatar or the UAE any day of the week.
I hope not to offend anyone here. I only wish to shed some light on the misconceptions of Arab life that only serve to feed the empirical/protectionist ideas of American intellectual thought.
The people on The Daily Paul come here because the seek liberty. I'm letting you know that I have more living in an Arab country than you have in America. Most of you already suspected it, which is why you browse this site to begin with. You're intelligent and inquisitive. I thought this might be a receptive audience.
If you want to know more about these countries, ask. I will tell you what I know. I'm not a sociologist, a census taker, or a bureaucrat. I work, live, and play. I'll share what i know.
-David in Qatar