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April 01, 2011

Washington Post Fails Mid-East Economics

There was a “Where’s Waldo?” element in The Washington Post article “Despite oil wealth, Arab economies lack traction” (February 24). It reported that “hundreds of billions of dollars in hydrocarbon wealth and other receipts” have done little “to create globally competitive economies or employment” in the Arab world. “The reasons for this poor record are varied, including repeated wars with Israel and each other, widespread corruption and the overwhelming presence of ruling cliques in the economy.”

Odd, those repeated wars Israel has had to fight with the Arab countries have not kept it from creating a globally competitive economy or employment, and doing so without hydrocarbon wealth. Israel’s high-tech sector, for example, has emerged as a recognized world leader, producing innovations ranging from cell phone technology to medical diagnostics.

The Post article, by staff writer Howard Schneider, observed that “growth in per capita income among the Arab countries lagged behind Asia, Latin America and Africa as a whole during the past 30 years ....” It reported that, within the Middle East, while Saudi Arabian per capita income fell six percent in constant dollars from 1981 to 2010, non-Arab Turkey’s grew 357 percent. The article doesn’t mention that Israel’s per capita income jumped almost 500 percent in the same period.

Maybe the “Where’s Waldo” factor also led the article to refer to “tiny Oman.” At 82,000 square miles, Kansas-sized Oman is eight times “less tiny” than Israel.

Whether or not size matters, it would appear that repeated wars with Israel have had less to do with economic stagnation among Arab countries than the “widespread corruption and overwhelming presence of ruling cliques” the article mentions and other factors it does not. These include lack of individual, women and minority rights; poor education; religious fundamentalism and “deficits” of democracy cited by the annual U.N. reports on Arab human development.


Posted by ER at April 1, 2011 04:15 PM

Comments

How about adding freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom in voting, freedom to learn, freedom from racism, freedom from torture, etc.

Oil wealth is termed the devils excrement because of the corrupt leadership it brings. Arab countries also seem to blame their problems on the lack of land; they always want their neighbors land.

Posted by: RWG at April 1, 2011 05:00 PM

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