Dune I totally just realised that Spice is Oil. It's the only thing that enables interstellar travel, you get it from a desert, the only thing stopping me from realising this was that if I drank a gallon of oil I wouldn't see visions of the future (well I might but they probably wouldn't be true; then I'd die)
Don't forget the race of badasses who live there.
Dude, the planet is named Iraq-is. It's ruled by a man named Shaddam. A lot of the terms that the Fremen use are slightly modified Arabic. I love Dune, but subtlety wasn't always Frank Herbert's strong point.
Dune was written in 1965. Saddam Hussein didn't become President of Iraq until 1979.
It's possible Herbert was going for a Stealth Pun, but Arrakis comes from Arabic for "the dancer" – it's the star now known as Mu Draconis. Iraq in Arabic is al-'Irāq.
Dune is so obviously a metaphor for the politics of the 1970s Persian Gulf (the emperor is called Shaddam, has the title of "Padishah" like the ruler of Iran, and he is toppled by a fanatical religious movement like the Iranian Revolution) that it comes as a real shock to realize that it was written fifteen years before the events it seems to be satirizing. (Maybe the author got hold of some Spice and had a vision of the future?)
The 1960's were when the colonial holdings of the European powers in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East finally started gaining independence. But of course the European powers were still trying to manipulate local politics so they could continue to maintain influence and access to the resources they wanted from those colonies to begin with. Dune wasn't so much prophecy as it was Ripped from the Headlines at the time. Frank Herbert was especially perspicacious in anticipating the role of religion as a unifying factor against colonialism/mercantilism.
Read Dune, then go watch Lawrence of Arabia, or read about the real Major Lawrence. Lawrence goes into the desert where the war between great civilized world powers is being waged, and harnesses the incredible overlooked strength of the native badasses to swing the outcome, and is (at least in the movie) revered and almost worshipped by his fighters.
Also, T. E. Lawrence was born out of wedlock (and in a time period, when it was considered a big deal). Paul is the son of Leto's concubine.
Chapterhouse: Dune - With the death of Frank Herbert the future of the Dune Universe is hidden from the viewers, which is a perfect analogy for the Golden Path, however unintended it may be.