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The situation in the Middle East


The Middle East is a large area spanning several territories with different cultural and ethnic groups. This region mainly includes the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait), the Fertile Crescent (Jordan, Iraq, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon) and the Valley of the Nile with Egypt. Here’s a summary of the latest developments in the Middle East.

The economics of the Middle East

The Middle East’s economy is as diverse as the countries it’s made-up of. There is a very large disposition to the production and export of raw materials and hydrocarbons, and for good reason. These natural resources are the region’s prime asset and more particularly for the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

However, some countries have greatly diversified their economic activities, particularly in terms of trade, tourism, high technology, and agriculture. This is the case of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel.

The Middle East’s economy is currently struggling due to the Covid-19 outbreak which caused oil prices to plummet. “The region is likely to experience a sharp decline in growth this year,” stated a report by the IMF’s regional manager for the Middle East and Central Asia. The budget deficit and public debt are also expected to increase especially in the oil-importing countries. The various governments are therefore invited to initiate reforms to revive the economy, particularly in the private sector.

The education in the Middle East

Overall, countries in the region have significantly improved their education systems. The various governments have indeed increased the investments to prepare a better future for the next generations. However, this investment varies from country to country: 2.5% of GDP in Lebanon, 5% in Saudi Arabia, 5.85% in Israel and 6% in Oman. The global enrollment rate in the region is 92%: 94.5% in Saudi Arabia, 95% in the United Arab Emirates and 82% in Lebanon.

While there are considerable differences between the countries of the region, it is clear that the majority of the population is now literate.The literacy rate reaches 75% in Egypt, compared to an average rate of 96% for the Gulf countries (99% in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for example).

The literacy rate reaches 75% in Egypt, compared to an average rate of 96% for the Gulf countries (99% in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for example).

In response to the current crisis linked to Covid-19, countries in the region have replaced face-to-face courses with distance learning, using the latest technology, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

However, these efforts are being undermined by the armed conflicts in the region. For example, UNICEF estimates that 3 million children have been deprived of school due to the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, pointing out that more than half of these out-of-school youth, aged 15 to 17, are girls.

On the other hand, governments must pursue their efforts to provide programs that are linked to the needs of the labor market and the changes in the region’s economies.

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