As the year comes to a close, many are relieved that a year of stormy clouds and unabated anger is behind us. Things can only get better, or is there still worse to come? In 2011, it turned out that we could not forecast the range of violent weather, nor could we predict the rage of people.
From Joplin Missouri's tornado to Hurricane Irene that had NYC evacuated (the feared but softer touch to predecessor Katrina), even the super-power was not above being invaded by mad storms.
Unemployment and debt crisis dominated the 2011 headlines. The Eurozone was affected, as was Japan with its own devestating quake-caused crisis. Austerity was felt in Europe, even if it didn't topple governments, as flagrantly as it did in the long-term frustrated Middle East. Still, Prime Ministers from Greece, Italy and Spain were unceremoniously shoved out of office. The US was dressed down with rising debt deficit.
Anger swept across the globe leading to Occupy Wall Street. Lines were drawn between the 'Ins' and 'outs' of the Euro while a member of the European Union (EU), the UK opted out of 'saving' the Euro.
The Arab Spring had a distinct snowball effect that was felt beyond the Caucuses. From Europe through Israel and further East, the world degenerated into protesting indignation.
The Gulf States by and large avoided major uprisings, though for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA or SA), recent rallies in Qatif along the East coast, suggest a lingering grievance of inequality and dignity that has not been sufficiently addressed through money spent by the Kingdom in 2011 to pacify its people. SA pumped $36 billion into its public sector, giving state employees pay raises and issuing financial aid to students. Kuwait doled out $4,000 grants and free food rations to its citizens.
Subsidies and cash pay outs in concert with concessions or 'progress' on laws that prohibit women from passing down their nationality were seen in the UAE and Kuwait.
Neighbor to Saudi, Bahrain, however kept Saudi far from complacent. Constantly watchful it has intervened with its own troops to keep a Shia threat at bay, risking accusations of 'foreign invasion'.
The 7 billionth baby was born in the same year that many lives were taken.
Norway served up a different brand of white Christian terrorism.
Steve Jobs the big gun of Apple computers passed away after battling with cancer. We learnt that his estranged father was of Syrian origin. Apple sold 50 million iPads in 2011.
Smart phones and social media played a large role in the Arab Uprisings.
The death of the printed book with the prevalence of the Kindle and iBook was predicted but not quite realised.
Finally, what the people wanted, they sometimes got. The Arab Spring wanted the 'fall of the regime' as protestors chanted in Arabic. For Egypt, Libya and Tunisia at least, they are on their way to 'something' different from the old regime at least.
With Osama Bin Laden out of the picture, the world was now deemed a safer place....
A Frantic and Frenetic Year
Singular moments and memories carry some still poignant images, but the year was marked by a dynamic ever-changing kaleidoscope of inundating pictures and perspectives. Even within a single Arab revolution, many different faces could be found - from promise to despair in the same week. The dramatic spectacle of struggle against adversity, come triumph or failure, were heart-rending to witness.
In a year that opened out with Australia flooded in record rainfall courtesy of Cyclone Tasha and and 181 New Zealanders killed in their deadliest earthquake, the year still ended on a stormy note-- in weather and people anger, expressing grievances and economic distress to the very last day of the year. It remains only to be seen how much the party spirit of the New Year Eve will be affected.
This was a wild wild year, but we in turn had wild creative ways of documenting it tracking it and recording it with our phones and tweeting compulsions.