Essay: Middle East Community Development

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Middle East Community Development

The Middle East is a land of conflict which has for centuries raised the interest of the Westerner. Home of terrorism but also of mysticism, the Orient has captured the attention of the international context, which strives to support its development. Like a paradox, the countries in the Middle East are rich in numerous and valuable natural resources, such as natural gas, crude oil or timber. Yet, their levels of infrastructure are inadequate and the populations continue to live in extreme poverty. International institutions have intensified their efforts to address the most basic needs in these regions, but much remains yet to be done. However, a question that is being posed refers to the interests of the international community in becoming involved in the problems of the Middle East. The first section will focus on the United States' desire for development, followed by an exemplification of Egypt. Consequently, the Hands along the Nile Development Services will be assessed, all to be rounded up in a concluding remarks section.

2. Importance of Development to the United States

The rationale behind the United States' interests in seeing developments in the Middle East is a dual one, with the first set of arguments being altruistic and referring to issues such as a desire for world peace or the elimination of starvation. The second set of arguments is however more focused on the personal interests of the North American country and the most notable of these elements refers to the fact that the Middle East represents a land rich in natural resources, from where vast materials and commodities get sent to the U.S. Otherwise put, the Middle East constitutes a great import source and the United States is interested in preserving and improving it.

Saudi Arabia for instance exports mainly petroleum and petroleum-based products, which constitute an estimated 90% of all of their trade commodities. The U.S. represents their largest export partner, with the largest share of 17.1% petroleum going to the North American country. While the palette of exported products is vaster for Pakistan and includes primarily textiles, rice, leather, chemicals and manufactured items, the situation is similar in the meaning that the largest portion of their products (18%) goes to the United States, which is their largest export partner. It could also be argued that the United States is interested in seeing developments in the Middle East as the region represents a destination for the American products. While this is true and the American manufacturers do export some of their commodities to the Oriental market, the actual percentage to U.S. revenues is reduced. The Pakistani markets for instance only import 5% of all their sold goods from the United States (Central Intelligence Agency, 2009). Consequently then, it can be concluded that the main economic interest is that of developing the region that offers access to cost effective and abundant natural resources.

Aside petroleum and natural gas however, the Middle East plays a direct role in creating food and this is a valuable characteristic sought out by the United States. To best understand this feature, one should look at the relevant case in Somalia. The country is one of the poorest economies of the globe, with national limitations in politics and agriculture (less than 2% of their land is arable). In this context, the population is mostly nomadic and gets by raising cattle, sheep, camels and other animals. Economic development is based on the export of livestock, accounting for as much as 80% of all exports, in some years. To the United States and other civilizations, this flow of livestock increases access to food and the ability to feed the populations -- a growing challenge in the contemporaneous society in which the natural resources fade away and the population of the globe continues to increase.

Then, in terms of business opportunities, the Middle East reveals a series of comparative advantages and could easily be seen as a favorable destination to open plants or conduct various business operations. Upon the commencement of these activities, the American entrepreneurs would benefit from the comparative advantages of the Oriental countries, such as extremely low cost workforce or an abundance of natural resources. Yet, for the time being, it is next to impossible to conduct fruitful operations in the region due to the vast limitations. To point out some of the most notable such limitations, one should consider the increased levels of corruption, political instability and even the lack of adequate political structure in some countries, poor telecommunication means and a generally inadequate infrastructure. All these shortages could be resolved through developmental processes which would in the end create more sustainable business environments, where the United States could operate and increase its international gains.

3. Emphasis on Egypt

On the CIA chart of 228 global economies, Egypt is found at the 28th position, with a gross domestic product of $442.6 billion. Unlike other countries in the region, Egypt has enjoyed increased levels of development due to its location near the Nile. The river allowed for intensive agricultural activities that could not be sustained in other Oriental countries. Yet, the rapidly growing population (Egypt has the largest population of all Arab countries), coupled with reduced portions of arable land as well as an increased dependence on the Nile are all continuing to put intense pressure on social and economic stability. The national government has recognized the problems of the country and has responded with the implementation of three strategic directions -- economic reform, investments in communications and third, investments in physical infrastructure. The results materialized in greater degrees of privatization, reduced fiscal pressure (for both individuals as well as economic agents), a booming stock market and a growing national income -- Egyptian GDP has been growing at an estimated 7% per annum since 2006 (Central Intelligence Agency).

Additional efforts have been made in order to increase the freedom of speech and this basically materialized in growing levels of media service quality. Then, other examples of development refer to a growing focus on the touristy capabilities of the country and the intense efforts made in the attraction of more foreigners and as such increasing the popularity of the country, getting its industries running and registering more national income. Finally, in terms of transportation and infrastructure, a loan in the amount of $200 was contracted form the World Bank and is to be invested in the development of railways (Encyclopedia.com, 2006).

Through the implementation of the above mentioned strategic directions and the results they generated, it becomes obvious that Egypt is ready for reforms that have the ability to propel it to the peaks of international economics. This readiness for development then constitutes a major reason as to why intense emphasis should be placed on Egypt.

Another interesting reason as to the importance of focusing on Egypt is given by the trade capabilities of the country. In this order of ideas, Egypt is one of the largest global exporters of natural gas, with 15.7 billion cubic meters exported in 2007 (14th largest exporter of natural gas in the world). They also sell petroleum and petroleum-based products, chemicals, textiles, cotton and metallic products and their main export partner is constituted by the United States. Also, 11% of all products imported to Egypt originate within the United States, meaning than that the country represents a valuable trade partner. Extrapolating from the findings in the previous section, it can be argued that the intense focus on the Nile-bisected country is given by the trade capabilities of the state -- exports natural resources scarce in other global regions and constitutes a market for the American products; Egypt mainly imports machineries and equipments, foods, chemicals, wood products and fuels (Central Intelligence Agency).

Also directly linked to trade is the fact that historically, Egypt has been a centralized and rather enclosed economy. During the recent years however, and under the presidency of Anwar El-Sadat (former president) and Mohamed Hosni Mubarak (current presidnet), Egypt has opened its gates to international trade, allowing other partners to benefit from its comparative advantages.

Some final arguments that reveal the importance of focusing on Egypt for future development include the stability of the macroeconomic indicators; the fact that the real growth rate is higher than the population growth rate; the economy is sustainable and market driven; operations are adequately distributed across the country; environmental improvements are continually made; the government offers various incentives to foreign investors, incentives which are transparent and reveal low levels of corruption; the incomes from the Suez Canal are continually increasing and are sustainable; the country reveals a great commitment towards internal stability (Ezza).

Numerous international institutions have recognized the abilities of Egypt and have intensified their efforts to sustain the country's development. One such entity is the HANDS organization, the acronym standing for Hands Along the Nile Development Services. The not-for-profit entity is based in America and operates on two primary goals -- bringing the Egyptians and the Americans closer together and sustaining… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Middle East Community Development.  (2009, June 23).  Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/middle-east-community-development/998752

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"Middle East Community Development."  Essaytown.com.  June 23, 2009.  Accessed July 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/middle-east-community-development/998752.