Arab economies and societies - the rich no less than the poor - have failed to develop for political as well as for structural economic reasons. The economies' weakness is due to governmental control, to the exclusion of foreign investors and to social systems of more or less "absolute welfare", causing not only immense social spending but also inefficiency and incompetitive attitudes
Financial reforms at least in the poor Arab countries have been quite successful in reducing debt service ratios, decreasing budget deficits and curbing inflation. But recent measures of structural change, requiring openness to foreign investors and privatisation, are applied only hesitantly. The growth of world oil demand will not necessarily be met by the Gulf states. They have to invite back the oil companies as suppliers of technology and capital by offering them more attractive financial terms
The stagnation of political reform processes, that have been brought virtually to a halt by the events in Algeria in 1992, produces unhappy societies, likely to be less stable, and prevents economic innovation. A force which should be accelerating economic change is the gradual move towards peace in the Middle East, hopefully intensifying Arab-Israeli economic contacts and minimizing the Arabs' feeling of having to defend themselves against a mainly hostile world
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