During my repeated visits to the hospital and clinic in the past two weeks, I couldn't help but notice the difference between what Arabs and Westerners do with their time.
I am trying very hard to avoid generalizations and stereotyping, but while waiting for their turn to see the doctor, MOST westerners read a book, while MOST Arabs spent their time talking on the cell phone, starting conversation with whoever is sitting next to them, watching others, napping, or just getting agitated battling boredom.
I fully understand that the percentage of illiteracy is high in the Arab countries. I also understand that in most Arab societies, buying books is a luxury that is not afforded by many. But my observation is true for Arabs waiting in Airports, traveling on planes, trains, relaxing in cafes, and what have you. This crowd is mostly college graduates & professionals who can definitely afford buying a couple of books each month. I for one, never had a book to read when I traveled, visited the doctor, went to the hair dresser,... until a couple of years back. So I am not accusing or blaming, I am just saying that it is not in our culture to do so.
I hope that reading becomes an integral part of the Arab culture. For a nation that brags about being religious, it's strange that there is a collective agreement to ignore the first commandment decreed in Islam. READ.