Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Nov 21, 2009

Poverty in the Arab World

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that more than one billion people, world wide, do not have enough food for their daily supply. This represent 1 out of 6 of the world population. The report also referred to poverty in the Arab world where forty million people are experiencing shortage of food on a daily basis, i.e. 13% of the Arab world total population. Furthermore, 100 million people in the Arab countries are living below the poverty line. This is equal to one third of the total population of the Arab world.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the poverty in the Arab world:

1. The uneven distribution of wealth. The income per capita reflects a wide gap between the people. It ranges from $65 per person / year to $53,000 per person /year.

2. The corruption at all levels of government institutions which was recently reported by Transparency International (Al Jazeera.net, 11/18/09).

3. The failure of a development strategy in the agricultural sector where only 30% of the agricultural land is under cultivation.

4. The large amount of the money from the sale of oil invested by Arab governments outside the Middle East and referred to as the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) if used in the Arab world could have created jobs for the millions of young unemployed. It is, however, invested in the USA and Western Europe. More than $ 1.282 trillion were invested in US banks and of course billions of dollars were lost as a result of the 2008 economic melt down (The Middle East magazine , October/09).

5. Unemployment in the Arab world has been estimated at an average of 15% of the labor force by the Arab Employment Organization ( Al Ahram, 11/4/09). A high percentage of the unemployed are college graduates.

This high unemployment rate is definitely the major factor which might lead to political and social unrest in the Arab world, as well a factor towards the rise of international terrorism. It is certainly a highly explosive time bomb that we all should be aware of.