The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has been experiencing deteriorating parameters for both food production and consumption for some time. Agricultural output is constrained by limited water resources, diminishing arable land, and poor public policy. Consumption is driven by high population growth and subsidies that encourage waste. The region is food insecure, both on […]
Since the late 1990s, Saudi Arabia has faced increasing economic challenges. In order to address these problems and to improve the conditions of its citizens, the Saudi regime has gradually increased oil price targets. This article analyzes the factors that have influenced Saudi Arabia’s considerations in setting a preferred oil price target. It also examines the option of diversification of the Arab economy and the creation of new industries as a means of reducing oil prices.
Following two decades of failed economic liberalization programs since 1989, Iran has stepped up its privatization policy. This article explores the factors that have motivated the government of President Ahmadinejad to push for privatization, despite its anti-capitalist rhetoric and lack of adequate economic preparations, and whether this policy can bring the intended results.
Israel experienced no more than a mild recession as a result of the global financial crisis that began in 2007, a testament to policies adopted by the government over the previous decade. These policies emphasized fiscal restraint, as well as liberalization and increased competition across most of the economy while strengthening regulatory restrictions on the banking sector. Indeed, the only case of market failure in Israel came in the relatively unregulated non-bank credit sector. However, IsraelĂ?Ć?Ă?Â˘Ă?â??Ă?â?¬Ă?â??Ă?â?˘s recent policy successes by themselves are insufficient for ensuring long-term, sustainable growth for the economy. This article suggests that Israeli policy makers must now focus on measures that expand and deepen its knowledge-based industries–which are too reliant on high-technology start-up companies–and narrow the social and economic imbalances that have emerged since the 1980s.
After several years of sharp increase, European exports to Iran declined significantly from mid-2006 until late 2007. French government support for the United States placed French firms under extreme financial pressure from Washington. While 2008 showed an unexpected recovery of European exports to Iran, France seems to have lost market its share there, as Germany–in spite of its stated firmness on sanctions–maintained its high level of trade with Iran. With the Iranian market virtually cleared of competitors, will a “grand bargain” initiated by Barack Obama present American companies with easy access to this market?
Fifty years of rapid population growth in the Middle East is coming to an end. The Middle East is experiencing the same “demographic transition” to slow population growth that other areas have gone through. The immediate reason for the slower population growth is a fall in the number of children born to the average woman over her lifespan, known as the “total fertility rate” (TFR). While contraception availability and urbanization played a part in the declining TFR, the main factor was the empowerment of women. In recent decades, Middle Eastern women have made great progress at gaining more equal access to education, but that has not yet translated into more access to employment outside the home. The demographic transition through which the Middle East is passing presents an opportunity that is also a challenge. The opportunity is several decades in which the economy faces a relatively light burden in caring for children and the elderly. However, the Middle East can only take advantage of this opportunity if it can create enough jobs for the young people born during the years of rapid population growth. If jobs are not created in sufficient numbers to absorb those joining the labor market, the resulting rise in unemployment could have a considerable political impact. Meanwhile, within a few decades, the Middle East is expected to experience a rapid increase in the elderly population, which by 2050 will exceed the number of children in many of the region’s countries.