Labor Migration in the Arab World

by Fred Halliday
published in MER123

The Arab world comprises 18 states and was inhabited, in 1980, by more than 150 million people. [1] Two factors vital to economic development—population and oil—are, however, distributed in an extremely uneven manner among these states. The abstract possibility of mutually beneficial cooperation between the population-rich and the oil-rich is not being realized. Instead, we are seeing a process of increased inequality and deterioration in the productive and human resources of the Arab world: first, between the oil-rich and population-rich states; and second, between the Arab world as a whole and the industrialized economies from whom the real wealth of the Arab countries (mediated through oil revenues) is coming.

The Responsibilities of the Cartoonist

An Interview with Khalid Albaih

by Katy Kalemkerian , Khalid Mustafa Medani
published in MER274

Khalid Albaih is a political cartoonist “from the two countries of Sudan,” in his words, who is now based in Qatar. His drawings appear at his Facebook page, entitled Khartoon! in a play on the name of the Sudanese capital. Katy Kalemkerian and Khalid Medani spoke with him in Montreal on November 9, 2014, and conducted a follow-up interview by Skype after the January 2015 attack on the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, notorious for its regular caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in degrading or humiliating poses.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER274

It is easy to be rendered speechless, or cast into despair, by the sheer enormity of the conflagration in today’s Middle East. At year’s end in 2014, more than half of the countries this magazine covers were embroiled in wars within their borders or nearby. The Saudi-led assault on Yemen launched in March brings that proportion to over three quarters. The retrograde political forces in the region—authoritarianism, paranoid nationalism, ethno-religious chauvinism—are on the rise, while democrats and defenders of human rights are in prison or in exile.

The Arab Economies in the 1970s

by Roger Owen
published in MER100-101

The 1970s were undoubtedly the most dramatic and important years in recent Middle Eastern history. The decade began politically with the death of Nasser, the formal withdrawal of the British from the Gulf and the first sharp increase in the price of oil. Oil -- its production and marketing, its revenues, its social impact -- was at the center of the economic transformation of the region. By the end of the decade, most Arab oil regimes (with the exception of Saudi Arabia) had nationalized their reserves and producing facilities and taken formal control of pricing and rates of production. Huge sums of money accrued to the major oil exporters, encouraging mammoth infrastructural investment and equally massive labor migration to the Gulf states and Libya.

Three Pawns in the “Great Game”

The Early CIA in the Middle East

by David H. Price
published in MER271

Hugh Wilford, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York: Basic Books, 2013).

Middle East scholars have long been aware of the CIA’s power and swagger in the region, yet their studies rarely mention the Agency beyond passing references, and the CIA’s role in events is seldom the primary focus of academic works. There are several reasons for this lacuna, not the least of which are the methodological obstacles to studying secret activity.

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Please Explain This Map

by Chris Toensing | published May 24, 2014 - 12:54pm

In early May the website Vox made a small splash on the Internet with “40 Maps That Explain the Middle East.”

China's New Silk Road Strategy

by Haiyun Ma , I-wei Jennifer Chang | published May 20, 2014 - 4:14pm

In the current issue of Middle East Report, we write about the strategic logic of China’s increasing investment in teaching Middle Eastern languages, particularly Arabic, Persian and Turkish. A key goal of the push for Middle Eastern language competency is to help rebuild the Silk Road that China stood astride in centuries past.

Region, Race and Some Ironies of History

by Cemil Aydin | published May 7, 2014 - 11:01am

In the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “China in the Middle East,” I write about the often forgotten history of political, intellectual and cultural ties between East Asia and West Asia (or the Middle East) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Arabs in Yiwu, Confucius in East Beirut

by Roschanack Shaery
published in MER270

The September 11, 2001 attacks marked the beginning of large-scale trade between the Middle East and mainland China in the modern era. New visa restrictions in the United States -- until then the number-one trading partner of Arab countries -- forced Arab merchants to find business destinations in various Chinese cities. Statistics attest to the intensification of Sino-Arab trade: In 2004, the volume was less than $36 billion but in 2011 it reached nearly $200 billion. The Chinese government’s goal is to boost trade to $300 billion in 2014.

DragonMart, the Mega-Souk of Today's Silk Road

by Jacqueline Armijo
published in MER270

In 1998, a shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Indonesia. It turned out to be the remains of an early ninth-century dhow from the Gulf that had been headed back from China with a cargo of over 70,000 items, primarily ceramics, produced in different Chinese regions. The goods varied in style and quality, and had clearly been custom-made for the different tastes of the major trading centers of the Gulf. Thousands of ceramic bowls and dishes had been neatly stacked into hundreds of large urns, which in turn had been arranged in several layers of rows along the bottom of the dhow.

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