Thomas L. Friedman’s op-ed in The New York Times is worth a quick read. He notes there are two tremors shaking the Arab world. The first is that the Saudis are preparing for some local elections. This news is akin to hearing that is is snowing in Riyadh! What’s going on? Well, among other things, Freidman argues, the Saudis are preparing themselves for "the uncomfortable possibility that by 2005 Iraq will hold a free election, which will shame all those who never have." The second is that some courageous Arab scholars are releasing the second Arab Human Development Report tomorrow. (Go to my July, 2002, comment on this report. And here is the very long 2002 Arab Human Development Report.) Although the 2003 Report is embargoed until tomorrow, Friedman thinks it will be another "bombshell." It will focus on the need to rebuild Arab "knowledge societies." The authors of the report believe that there must be some serious change in the region, changes that are more hospitable to human development; especially toward freedom of thought, womens empowerement and the accountability of governments to the people. Developments in Iraq, Freidman implies, will help this needed change come about. I will take note of the new report as as soon as it is available.