And to what extent do you believe that these cultural differences are linked to prosperity? I mean, the concept of the nation-state has been the backbone of global culture since the 17th century (the idea introduced in the Treaty of Westphalia in 16-something-or-other), and yet, in recent decades, this culture, this idea has been slowly - but surely - fading in the name of greater prosperities.
Other cultures are also fading in the Western World due to greater prosperity - look at the relative diminishing importance of the monarchies in Europe. And, on other levels, the changes in architecture. Equal rights, democracy, and personal freedoms also seem to become of far greater importance as wealth increases.
When I look at the Middle-East, I see that the views of the people are very similar to the views of Europe centuries ago. Borders are still issues worth going to war over, frequent and frivolous use of capital punishment, in-equal rights between ethnicities and genders, strong monarchies and/or dictatorships.
What the Middle-East really needs is a democratic revolution, and it is happening, though maybe only on a small scale for the moment - Iraq and Afghanistan are being pushed forward by the hands of the West, but we are starting to see grass-roots movement for democracy in countries like Iran - remember those protests last year? What Europe showed is that no matter how hard the Government may try, those protests will forever continue until democracy prevails. The Government can merely delay the revolution, it cannot deny it.
When democracy does finally stretch itself across the Middle-East, development will be rapid - secularism will happen over time, though it may not be immediate - and other Western cultural ideas will start to prop up alongside it - equal rights, reduction of capital punishment, etc.
By this point, the Middle-East will probably see capitalism slowly enter throughout - stronger property rights and contract laws - favoured by democratic Governments - will see small domestic businesses popping up and prospering, as well as huge levels of foreign investment.
At this point, I honestly believe that it will only be a couple of decades before the Middle East becomes a dustier version of Europe.
Basically, what I'm getting at is that the huge, gaping differences in culture are strongly linked to the huge, gaping differences in wealth.