What is the Middle East?
• Middle East, term applied to a region that includes south west Asia and part of north east Africa, lying west of Iran and Afghanistan. The region was the site of great ancient civilizations, e.g., Mesopotamia and Egyptian, and it was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It contains much of the world's oil reserves and has many strategic trade routes, e.g., the Suez Canal.
• The term Middle East is also sometimes used in a cultural sense for that part of the world predominantly Islamic in culture, in which case Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the remaining countries of North Africa are included.
• The invasions of Muslims from Arabia in the 6th and 7th century diffused the Arabic language and Islam. At its peak the Arab empire extended from the Atlantic Ocean across North Africa and the Middle East to central Asia.
• The emergence of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century and of the Ottoman Turks in the 13th century ended Arab dominance in Islam.
• Since 1948 disputes with the state of Israel have resulted in Arab-Israeli Wars. In 2002 the league for the first time offered Israel normal relations with Arab countries if it met certain conditions, but many of those conditions were not acceptable to Israel.
• Middle East controls two thirds of the world's oil reserves and are members of OPEC.
• GDP in all Arab countries combined stood at $532.2 billion in 1999 less than that of a single European country, Spain, $595.5 billion
• Arab countries saw very strong growth during the second half of the 1970's after 1973 war, followed by a very sharp drop between 1982 and 1990 the so called lost decade and then a return to more modest average during the late 1990’s.
• In 2008 the oil price has escalated sharply to reach $ 150
• The fluctuating economic growth in the Middle East pattern reflects mainly movement in oil- market.
• The economic growth in the Middle East has been affected by declining labor...