Once upon a time there were three little islands, separated by thousands of miles. One was called Swampy, because for most of its history it had been a swamp. The other was called Rocky because there was a big hill across most of it and Dusty was surrounded by sand.
As you can probably tell, there was not really much on Swampy, Rocky or Dusty to excite people and not many animals went there either. But all three lay just on the edge of large continents and all the other lands and islands around the continents laughed at Swampy, Rocky and Dusty because while civilisations grew everywhere else, nothing much ever happened there.
So for thousands of years as people fought over other lands and rivers and mountains, these three little islands lay undisturbed, except for some fishermen. Because it seemed to anyone who did ever land there, that there really was nothing much worth staying for, let alone fighting over.
Then after thousands of years of solitude, things changed. Swampy, Rocky and Dusty were the same as they had always been. But the people who lived on other lands and islands changed or rather they made changes. They changed their small ships into big ocean going ones and with that came the chance to travel to faraway places. Now Swampy and Rocky were no longer islands on the edge. They were on the route to somewhere and people needed to visit them.
As the visitors for buying and selling grew, so even more people came, because customers love having a choice. But still Swampy was hot, sticky and mosquitoey, because mosquitoes like hot and sticky places. And again someone, somewhere else discovered electricity and as often happens with big discoveries other people invented lots of other things that use electricity and one of them was the air-conditioner. Suddenly Swampy wasn’t hot and sticky anymore. Actually, by now the people who now lived on Swampy (who were rich from the trading and cool from the air-conditioning) looked down on all those other people who were hot and sweaty, just as Swampy had been looked down on for all those centuries.
What about Dusty? Well Dusty saw all its neighbours grow rich since they were sitting on top of lots of oil, which they could sell to people driving cars. But Dusty couldn’t share in all this wealth because Dusty only had gas and it was impossible to put gas on a ship to send to another country far far away. Then, one day, someone discovered how you can covert gas into a liquid and that can be put on a ship and suddenly Dusty was very rich indeed.
So is that a happy ending?
Well other lands and islands made fun of Singapore (Swampy) and Dusty (Qatar) and Rocky (Hong Kong) for all those centuries and they didn’t see how things can change. Who knows what will happen in the future? Who knows whether the places we think are poor today will one day become rich (because someone somewhere discovers something that totally changes what we think they are).