Western nations were the first to witness a new step in the hierarchy of society during the late 1800’s. Industrialization had caused a deformation in the social structure by creating an upper class known as the bourgeoisie, along with a lower working class. Traditional village life became almost obsolete as people rushed to live in cities and their suburbs. By the 20th century, Nations across Europe, including North America, eventually ran based on economic figures and depended heavily on trade, production and consumerism.

Capitalism was officially born in the 1900’s but it required an obedient society that would keep the gears turning by working and consuming. Products became specifically designed to target certain population groups and demographics, and as time progressed, the better the companies became at selling false pretensions. In 1962 the Consumer Bill of Rights was pushed forth by John F. Kennedy in order to protect consumers from enforced purchasing, fake commodities and physical safety; however the muscle of brand power has clearly won as could be seen in 21st C. America where Capitalism has gradually sculpted a “commodity culture”.

Looking at Capitalism through a political and economic scope, one can surely acknowledge the economic benefits behind following such a system, especially for third-world/ developing nations who need money for proper infrastructure and living conditions. Consumerism is also valuable to the society it encompasses as it provides a large array of products that do make life easier and more convenient. The United States along with its society can be seen as the guinea-pigs of such a system, since life today, after Globalization, is just the same no matter where you are in this world. So to look at Capitalism through a “realistic” scope, one can notice many holes and downfalls in implementing such a societal structure. A perfect region to portray the oversea effects of consumerism is the Middle East, where topographical landscapes and societies have drastically changed within a few decades.

Topographical landscapes across the Middle East have changed due to the monetary influx of corporate/consumer life. In order for Capitalism to work, it needs a specific environment to flourish in. High-rise buildings, massive commercial areas, and heavy infrastructure all densely packed into one area, or what we call a “modern” city, is the perfect Petri dish. Traditional architecture is neglected as buildings are constructed merely to accommodate offices and business needs. Beirut, Lebanon is a great example of the old making way for the new; however most of the new structures bear no resemblance to the identity of the Lebanese nation, except for the Down Town area that has been privatized and is only functional to a certain class of society that can afford luxury. Capitalism did not single handedly cause this, but it encouraged selfish monetary ambitions that cause much corruption and social class distances. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is another example of capitalist power. A once barren desert landscape has turned in to a canopy of skyscrapers and contemporary architecture where huge amounts of energy are wasted to power ‘modern comfort’ appliances such as Air Conditioning. The United Arab Emirates as a whole turned from a nomadic Bedouin tent dwelling sun bearing culture to a high-rise, “I cant sleep without the A.C. on” culture in a matter of thirty years. Globalization therefore brings forth with it specific living conditions and architecture that in turn control the lives and standards of people whilst slowly etching away traditional roots.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a very misinterpreted nation, socially and culturally. Media in the west portray the nation as an extremist state with strict rules, zero freedom and enforced Islamic law. Well they are not wrong, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. The supposed “American hating” local Saudi society are as consumer oriented as any average American, probably even more because of the vast spending power available. Saudi’s listen to Western music, eat Western food, wear Western Clothes, drive Western cars, and live in American styled housing compounds and villas. They even consume large amounts of Starbucks even though the company donates money to Israel, a nation that Saudi does not recognize. Saudi Arabia does not allow tourism because they are afraid of losing their culture, and yet consumerism, like a virus, is the mode of life there.

GCC countries are witnessing a tremendous growth rate in obese people due to the increasing fast food franchises opening. Constant advertising, great value for price offers and super-sizing meals has taken its toll on the bellies of Khaleeji’s, its globalization at its finest.

The Middle East is no different than other regions of the world. Consumerism inflicts a heavy dosage of pure materialism wherever it goes transforming societies and flipping traditional norms. From clothes to houses, and the structure of society, the symbol of Capitalism is slowly uniting the people of the globe into a new world order.  Capitalism is Americas birth child, the middle class is a capsule for money, and globalization is just the term given to the spread of the Consumerist Empire.

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