Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part column on happenings in the United Arab Emirates, which is a Federation comprised of seven Arab states.

In the late 1970s, when the Shah ruled Iran, before their revolution and the hardline religious leaders took over; I worked for the American Hospital Association. Being in management, I was privy to lots of interesting information. Communications were exchanged between the Shah’s people, the Association and a Chicago hospital. The Shah had some health issues and there was only one country the international elite came to for the very best medical attention. At the time, a Chicago hospital had the leading specialist in the field pertaining to the Shah’s condition.

The Shah of Iran was coming to Chicago.

This was not a unique situation. Through the years, heads of state, celebrities and every foreign John Doe who could afford it came to the U.S. for the very best healthcare available. We were universally recognized as the premiere destination for diagnoses, treatment and cures.

That just might be changing.

I saw several eye-opening ads on television lately. They were promoting “Dubai Health” as the new “go-to” healthcare destination of the 21st century. I have to admit, before I arrogantly put on my “you have got to be kidding; no one beats the U.S. in quality of care” smirk, the images — really impressive images — began to appear on the screen. They have built what looks to be an entire healthcare city. Sleek, modern, architecturally-stunning structures flashed on the screen as direct, seriously scripted voiceovers of a virtual tour explaining what they have to offer exuded state-of the-art healthcare. They have a highly-rated medical school, research facilities, an alternative medicine building, and a state-of-the-art pediatrics hospital; to name only a few of Dubai Health’s offerings. It is impressive!

Are we losing our “cutting-edge” superiority?

Also, this month in Abu Dhabi, the Capitol of the United Arab Emerites, a $600 million art center has opened in their Cultural District. It too is architecturally stunning. But, what caught my eye is its name: “Louvre Abu Dhabi.” That’s right, The Louvre has entered into an agreement to provide some of the finest art in the world for the new center. It’s a complex agreement for use of the name; but my guess is The Louvre is being paid very well!

And, this is just a cursory look at what the oil-rich states are doing.

Our President has rightly touted the infrastructure advancements of the Emirates and other foreign nations. Roads, high-speed rail, airports with “Star Trek"-ian designs and now advanced healthcare and even some of the finest art in the world; they are catching up to us in some areas and we are lagging behind in others.

It seems to me that we have more than Russia, China and North Korea to worry about when it comes to foreign nations impacting our country. The wealthy oil nations are no longer keeping quiet about their 21st century advancements. We should be listening.

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. Visit Wendy’s website at www.wendylevenfeld.com.

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