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S.W. Asia & The Middle East. Arab Southwest Asia. Caught In the Middle: The region has central and strategic importance due to global choke points for world economy and its trade routes. This is also the most volatile region in the world due to strong cultural beliefs. Arab Southwest Asia.

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arab southwest asia
Arab Southwest Asia

Caught In the Middle:

  • The region has central and strategic importance due to global choke points for world economy and its trade routes. This is also the most volatile region in the world due to strong cultural beliefs.

The Middle East

arab southwest asia3
Arab Southwest Asia


  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

The Middle East

arab southwest asia4
Arab Southwest Asia


  • The differences in natural resources and economic management produce a wide range of economic status-from countries that remain poor to those that rival the wealthiest core countries.

The Middle East

arab southwest asia5
Arab Southwest Asia

Oil Wealth:

  • This sub-region contains a large proportion of the world's known oil reserves, giving it a huge strategic significance within the world economic and political systems.

The Middle East

arab southwest asia6
Arab Southwest Asia

Oil or No Oil:

  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen produce oil, but water is scarce.
  • Lebanon and Jordan have some water but little or no oil.
  • Iraq and Syria have both oil and water.
  • Results: Tensions remain between the donor countries (Gulf States) and those that receive aid (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen).

The Middle East

arab southwest asia7
Arab Southwest Asia

Sunni and Shia Muslims:

  • Differences also arise between the rival Muslim groups from the more conservative Sunnites to the more radical Shiites
  • Please see the "Expanded Coverage” Section of this chapter on your CD. Specifically: Islam in Northern Africa

The Middle East

sunni and shia muslims
Sunni and Shia Muslims

The Middle East

arab southwest asia9
Arab Southwest Asia


  • Clusters along the coasts and river valleys.
  • 1980 = 50 million
  • 2000 = 100 million
  • 2025 = 180 million
  • Desert environment causes agricultural settlement to be linked to water availability.

The Middle East


The Middle East

arab southwest asia11
Arab Southwest Asia

Population History:

  • World centre of civilization: Mesopotamia.
  • The seat of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions.
  • Clashes: Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
  • 632 Islam diffused from here.
  • Focus for conflicts between Arabs and Christian Crusaders.
  • Arabs and Mongols in the 1100s.
  • Conquered by Ottoman Turks.
  • Ottomans did little after the 1700s.
  • The sub-region became isolated from wider contacts.

The Middle East

arab southwest asia12
Arab Southwest Asia

Changing Impacts on Oil-Producing Countries:

  • The income from oil paid for changes in:
    • industrialization
    • agricultural intensification
    • roads, airports, health services, and education
    • increased living standards.
  • Still not up to a pattern of sustainable development based on diversified economies.
  • The great challenge: diversify before the oil runs out.
  • In 1995, Syria had only 8 years of recoverable reserves.

The Middle East

arab southwest asia13
Arab Southwest Asia

Impacts of Declining Oil Income:

  • These countries suffer several common problems that stem from their continued overspending through the period of falling oil prices.
  • They spend a third of their income on defence and internal security.
  • Education focuses on prestigious university provision rather than good basic systems that will produce much needed skilled labour and technicians.

The Middle East

arab southwest asia14
Arab Southwest Asia

Prospects for Regional Interchanges:

  • The economies of all Arab Southwest Asian countries are linked closely to the world core countries' demands for oil and other products.
  • Increases of trade with Eastern Asia - reducing dependency on “the West.”
  • Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Syria are at present considering new forms of economic cooperation with each other.

The Middle East


Urban Landscapes:

  • Urbanization was rapid in Northern Africa and South-western Asia after 1950. It is now one of the most urbanized world regions.

The Middle East


Rural Landscapes:

  • Open desert to highly intensive cultivated and irrigated areas where farmers have small plots of land.
  • Oil well pumps constitute a distinctive landscape.

The Middle East

future prospects for the region
Future Prospects for the Region

The future depends on:

  • a peaceful environment
  • economies to develop
  • control population increase
  • distribution of oil and water resources.

The Middle East

in closing
In Closing….
  • The most important factor for the region is a stable peace, and stable economies both at home and abroad.
  • With such strong cultural histories, both these critical success factors are fleeting at best.
  • Please read Chapter 7 in your text, Ch.4 in your Course Notes.

The Middle East