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Washington Post: Arab Nations Lag Behind Rest of World Economically

Author: Howard Schneider
February 23, 2011

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Howard Schneider explains why, despite having half of the world's oil and a third of the world's natural gas reserves, many Arab countries still have stagnant economies.

Amid a massive shift in the politics of the Arab world, the countries of the region are now confronting an economic challenge that is just as steep: how to engage with a global economy that in many ways has passed them by.

The nations of the Arab Middle East sit atop perhaps half of the planet's oil and a third of its natural gas reserves, yet the economies of the region are among the most stagnant.

Hundreds of billions of dollars in hydrocarbon wealth and other receipts - for instance, in the case of Egypt, revenue from the Suez Canal and U.S. foreign aid - have propped up undemocratic governments and subsidized swollen public sectors. But little has been done to create globally competitive economies or employment for a burgeoning number of young adults.

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