When looking at the Arab world you have to break it down into several locations to show if thier is progress or not. You have to look at the Gulf, Lavent, Egypt, North Africa and East Africa. If you analyse these locations seperatley you'll see figures from the top to the bottom of the spectrum.
Now I'll Analyse one country, Qatar.
Qatar has the fastest economy in the world which is expected to double by 2005. Qatar managed to gain this record-breaking figure even with the slow-down in oil prices and the world economy in General. The GDP per capita is the highest of an Arab nation and is equivelant and exceeds many of the developed western nations. The GDP per capita will continue to grow and the major analysts have predicted the GDP per capita to reach $50,000 per capita in only a few years while the highest figure today is $30,000+. Unemployment is at 0% and many jobs are created every day either in the private or public sector.
All Qataris have free education from School all the way till they finish college. This also applies to private schools in the country and abroad too. Illeteracy in the country will ablished soon but currently there are more illeterate men than women. Most of whom are bedouins.
In the past few years the country has taken major strides in Education. The number of colleges in the country increased by over 200% and the country currently has a mix of local and foreign colleges such Virginia Commonwealth University, Weil Corneill Medical College, the French Business School (coming later in the year) and possibly University of Texas. The country is attracting these colleges in a bid to diversify the education of the countries youth and introduce a high level of expertise.
In recent years thier have been plenty of construction projects to nearly double the amount of schools so that pupils/classrom ratio goes down to a very favourable figure. The ciriculum has been updated do be more international, teach environmental responsibility etc...
The Education City, the largest city dedicated to education is being constructed on the outskirts of Doha with many international schools, colleges and facilities such as the worlds largest library.
There have been many projects recently to help educate people in less economical developed countries such as Bosnia and Indonesia where many pupils were brought to Qatar under a sponsored education program takes all the way to college.
Envirnonmental Conservation projects in Qatar have incresed significantly in the past 5 years. Many projects were undertaken to protect the wildlife such as animal conservation, plant life protection, see water protection etc...
Qatar became the first country in the Gulf to vote and participate as candidates in free elections for the Municipal Governments. In the next couple of years a Parliament would be set up where all laws will be passed and of course women can participate as candidates and vote as well.
A new constition is also underway which is more "people-freindly" than the older one and it will only be passed if people accept it in internationally monitored polls.
Freedom of Press
Qatar became the first country in the Gulf to allow freedom of press and Al-Jazeera is proof of that where many political dissidents from many parts of the Arab world are allowed to critisize the governments and voice thier views.
Women are allowed to work wherever they want, wear whatever they want, have equal oppurtunities in education, allowed to drive (QR also has women pilots), participate in politics (there are many women in high levels of government and many regularly represent Qatar in major gatherings such as the UN).
Although there are several rules that don't apply equality such as Qatari women require permission from there brother, father or husband. There are also several committees in place to improve the situation of women in the country and the remainder of the world.
Science and Technology
There have been major adcancements in science and technology in feilds such as medicine or mechanics due to the many subsidized research facilities in the country. Further steps are being taken with the construction of the International Scientific Park where major research would be undertaken on many varried feilds under the sponsorhip of the government.
Here you can see that Qatar is different than many Arab countries and this level of differences can be found all arounf the Arab world. Some rich, some poor, some have freedom, some not etc....