Global TrendsIn Gulf and Middle East Population Evolution

Posted in Other | 21-Jan-06 | Author: Hichem Karoui

The bazaar - centre of busy life in 10-million-people Cairo.
The bazaar - centre of busy life in 10-million-people Cairo.

The Middle East and North Africa are a long-term demographic nightmare. The US Census Bureau estimates that the Middle East is a region where the population will nearly double between now and 2030.Some of the most important, and sometimes troubled, countries in the region will experience explosive population growth. Population growth presents major problems for infrastructure. Much of the region has become a “permanent” food importer. Employment and education will be critical challenges to regional stability...All these and other features make the Middle East less competitive with the leading developing regions despite the recent boom in oil prices…The trends in population growth actually represent potential threats to security and stability. Yet, despite the extreme sensitivity of these themes, we can hardly say that demographic evolution in the Middle East is considered as an issue deserving the same concern in the U.S. official spheres than energy, Islamism rise, non-conventional armament programs, etc. Actually, neither the president of the United States nor any high-ranking official in his administration seem concerned for example about the fact that about 2010 the pool of unemployed Arabs is expected to reach 25 million. True, this is first and above all an Arab problem. Yet, if the expectations are accurate, by 2050, according to the latest UN projections, the population growth rate of the Muslim world will converge on that of the United States (although it will be much higher than Europe's or China's). In the focus on the political processes in the Middle East, the demographic issue goes almost unnoticed, although this is the very source of future problems. However, we just ask: what will become of those 25 million idle young men in an Arab world where violence and terrorism seem to be generated by local as well as regional and international political interests, where the perspectives seem locked up and the future unsure and unsafe? What would we do of some reports claiming that the next “civilisation clash” will not spare the West, since some Islamist thinkers believe that Islam has one generation in which to establish a global theocracy before hitting a demographic barrier? Islam has enough young men, they claim, to fight a war during the next 30 years. Because of mass migration to Western Europe – which will be the attracting perspective for the expected 25 million unemployed Arabs -, the worst of the war might be fought on European soil.

Let us go back to October 2000 when, according to a declassified CIA document, a strategic planning conference gathered experts from academia, the business world, and the Intelligence Community. The purpose of the workshop was to identify the trends believed to be most important in shaping the global demographic landscape over the next decade, until 2025 1. The assessments of the experts are of the utmost importance, given the fact that the rise and fall of civilizations are linked to demographic trends. Thus, Great Britain’s population/employment crisis in the 18th and 19th centuries contributed to out-migration and innovation, which eventually led to technological breakthroughs and the Industrial Revolution. Besides, population growth has contributed to revolutions and expansionism: in the18th-century, population growth in France played a key role in the 1789 Revolution. Similarly, Japanese imperialism from the 1870s to 1945 was fuelled, in part, by its rise in population.

The purpose of this paper is to assess the trends that are already orienting the future of the demographic situation in the Gulf. However, the statements of the afore-mentioned 2000 conference – especially in their concern with the Middle East region – would cast a new light on any local evaluation, as we assume there is always a link between the international evolvements and the local ones. The second assumption underlying this paper is that demographic tides are closely related to security and political issues. Hence, it is also a matter of strategic planning.

We will divide the analysis in three sections: International demographic trends; Gulf demographic trends; and Middle East demographic trends, although such a division is dictated by reasons related to methodology more than to reality.

I - International demographic trends

A - Some key-findings of the 2000 Conference

Hichem Karoui is WSN Editor France: "This is not just a dark picture we depicted, but merely reality."
Hichem Karoui is WSN Editor France: "This is not just a dark picture we depicted, but merely reality."
To begin with, let us have a look at some of the experts’ key-findings. The most interesting feature that requires attention here may be the comparison either between two points in the time evolution, or between two continents, or countries, or regions, etc. For example:

  • In 1950, Europe and Russia comprised 22 percent of the global population; the share is now 13 percent, and by 2050 it will be 7.5 percent.

  • In 1950, six of the 10 most populous nations were in the developed world; by 2020, only the United States and Russia will remain on the top 10 list.

  • Of the 1.5 billion people that the world population will gain by 2020, most will be added to states in Asia and Africa.

  • By 2015, for the first time in human history, a majority of the world’s population will live in cities.

  • By 2050, the global 65+ age cohort will triple in size to about 1.5 billion, or 16 percent of the total.

  • Despite the general trend toward aging, many developing nations will experience substantial youth bulges: the largest proportional youth populations will be located in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iraq.

  • U.S. allies in the industrialized world will face an unprecedented crisis of aging. 2
  • The aging challenge could reduce Japan’s economic power.
  • An older Europe will be less willing to face up to global hotspots.

B - Demographic trends and socio-political instability

However, the demographic evolution would not be of much interest to the policymakers if it were only about social issues that may be contained and resolved by technocrats on the local level without more complications. The point is that while demographic factors are seldom the cause of conflict, they can heighten existing tensions or exacerbate other factors that precipitate conflict. The Long-Term Global Demographic Trends document defines four types of large-scale demographic shifts that will contribute to social stress sufficiently serious to warrant U.S. intervention:

  • Age cohort differences, such as the widening youth bulge in the developing world, could lead to political, economic, and social upheaval as well as external migration because of limited social mobility. Youth bulges combined with low job-creation rates or government indifference provide fodder for conflict and radical movements.

  • In some areas population growth will exacerbate environmental degradation, competition for scarce resources, vulnerability to disease, support for extremist political and religious movements, and sometimes violent conflict, as in Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti.
    Chronic high fertility rates in developing nations with narrowly based elites and weak institutions are particularly vulnerable. Lagos, Nigeria, is a prime example but Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have many other countries with these problems.

  • Movements from rural to urban areas, or legally or illegally across national boundaries, will evoke tensions, discrimination, and violence; strain health-care delivery systems; and contribute to disease outbreaks, particularly in receiving areas.

  • The risk is high that some of US key allies in the developing world will be destabilized by migratory population flows.

Besides, Divergent fertility rates between ethnic groups with mixed settlement patterns and historical enmity within countries and between neighbouring countries will exacerbate instability and conflict, which could ultimately change the balances of power in some regions.

Several of the world’s poorest developing countries will have the world’s largest youth populations over the next two decades. The paper defines a youth bulge as a disproportionate concentration of population in the 15 to 29-age range:

  • Yemen, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa will have among the world’s largest youth populations, the latter even with the impact of AIDS.

  • Most countries with large youth populations, even those that have relatively more financial resources like Saudi Arabia, are particularly ill prepared to deal with youth bulge.

Many of these countries have among the world’s weakest economies and have political and institutional constraints that discourage the economic activity and private investment needed to generate jobs. Boosting economic growth and job creation requires significant increases in savings and investment, which many of these countries are pressed to obtain.

The International Labour Organization estimates that the global labour force will increase by nearly 1 billion over the next decade—with most growth coming from the developing world—putting significant pressure on already weak economies to create hundreds of millions of new jobs. The shortage of professional entry-level jobs will be a particular concern. Unemployment in the Middle East for example, is most severe among young semi-educated city dwellers that have received enough education to raise expectations and aspirations and are reluctant to take manual low-status jobs.

"Rise and fall of civilizations are linked to demographic trends"
"Rise and fall of civilizations are linked to demographic trends"
With fertility rates remaining relatively high in developing countries, pressures will continue on education, health care, sanitation, and economic infrastructures.

The failure to adequately integrate youth populations is likely to perpetuate the cycle of political instability, ethnic wars, revolutions, and anti-regime activities that already affect many countries:

  • According to a US Government study, when the cohort of 15-to-29-yearolds exceeds the 30-to-54-year-old cohort by a ratio of 1.27 or more, a country’s probability of instability - defined as revolution, ethnic war, genocide, and disruptive regime changes- increases. 3

  • Large youth populations may challenge some governments’ long-held political and foreign policy agendas, possibly leading to shifts in the relationship of some countries with the United States.

  • A number of political, economic, and social problems provides the principal contribution to civil unrest, but demographic pressures aggravate them.

The CIA document states that large youth populations are likely to be the most disruptive to US interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Gaza, and the West Bank 4, all places where unemployed alienated youth provide fertile ground for radical political movements.

New generations of unemployed Pakistanis and Afghans—the latter of which see war as virtually the only lifestyle opportunity—will continue to provide a ready source of labour for terrorist groups. Moreover, although, the Conference that issued this document, has preceded 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has particularly forecast that Saudi Arabia and Iraq could see some instability, at least in the medium term. In the same context, it predicted that criticism from unemployed youth that are able to mobilize themselves as a group could pressure governments to adopt more economic reforms and more democratic styles of leadership over the longer term.

II - Demographic trends in the Gulf

How does the Gulf region may be related to this overall picture?

We may be inclined to say the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area has been spared dangerous evolvements – the last of which was the Kuwait war - which sounds somehow contrasting with a neighbourhood in ebullition. Actually, either in Iran or in Iraq, there is some ground to the theory that upheavals, revolutions and wars, are related to demographic trends. Both countries have been for long years a source of trouble and anxiety for the GCC states, and that was not so only because of their internal struggles and their 8 year long war and the ongoing ambiguous situation (in both countries), but also because of the demographic boom that has not been halted by wars.

Yet, despite that GCC states apparently own an integrative economical and political structure and seem almost able – compared to the rest of the Arab countries - to coordinate their efforts on varied levels, some challenges still deserve a lot of attention. The demographic balance inside the GCC is not the least. As J.E. Peterson 5 notes, success in the past of course is no guarantee of survival in the future. To retain an approximation of their present form and function, Gulf monarchies must continue to adapt and change. Regime responses must include the recognition that their populations are changing. The rapid growth of population, with annual rates approaching 4% in all the Gulf States, means that “emphasis on the personal touch – so important in relations between ruler and ruled, as well as between any two Gulf citizens – will no longer suffice. Growing numbers of people and divergent patterns of education mean that younger generations no longer know all their counterparts. The physical spread of Gulf cities, sprouting ever-farther flung housing areas and choked by automobiles, means that traditional daily visits between family members are observed less. Even the personal contact between a citizen and his or her government weakens, as busy bureaucrats end up dealing with streams of visitors they do not know. Thus, the growing complexity of government and of public issues means that rulers and senior officials become increasingly over-worked and rulers and their families grow more distant and aloof as monarchical trappings put down roots”. 6

Peterson notes also that Gulf populations are changing in more ways than just sheer size. “The expansion and encouragement of education inevitably changes perception of government-constituent relations. Increasing numbers of educated, middle-class, and politically aware citizens are no longer content with the father-child model, and demand greater say in the increasingly difficult choices their countries must make. Throughout the Gulf, one universal source of friction is the privileged status of ruling families, which number in the thousands in some Gulf States. The need to curb the excesses of some family members, and to restrict their many privileges, is not only demanded by political sensitivities but also required by changing economic circumstances” 7.

To have more a precise picture of the situation, let us look at this table:

GCC Population :

Please click to enlarge
"The increasing population represents an additional pressure involving new social, economical and political required efforts"

Source : World Fact Book.

The first remark we have concerns the rate growth of the population. In three GCC countries (Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia), it bypasses 3 %. In two others (Bahrain and UAE), it is approaching 2 %; and in the last country (Qatar) it is close to 3 %. The overall estimation, is that this rate is rather increasing than decreasing, which represents probably an additional pressure involving new social, economical and political required efforts.

According to some estimates, “even if the population growth continues at about 2.7 % per year, it will double in about 26 years” 8. This is the fastest rate of growth in the world, exceeding even that of sub-Saharan Africa. In a broader context, the Gulf would probably know the same evolution expected for the Middle East population that “ may reach roughly 600 million by 2025, some six times more people than in the 1950s” 9. We hardly need to say that such growth poses numerous economic challenges, ranging from food and water to jobs and housing.

Rapid past population growth combined with sharp falls in fertility have two major implications:

First, most Middle Easterners are young. In Iran, for example, half of the population is less than 15 years old. By 2025, the number of people aged 0–14 years will roughly double.

Second, the rapid fall in fertility may lead to a rapid decrease in the “dependency ratio” (the number of people under 15 and over 65 to the working age population). When this has happened elsewhere, as in East Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, dramatic increases in national savings rates ensued. For some observers, the demographic change caused the savings change (this is the natural result of their life-cycle savings model). They are quick to note, however, that whether such savings find their way into productive and job-creating investment depends on many other factors. 10

The second remark is that current economic challenges are likely to be exacerbated by the rapid population growth being experienced by most of the states in the region. As the GCC population table indicates, some states are experiencing high levels of population growth. Our table does not show Iran, although this country has adopted proactive measures to re-verse this trend, but Iran will continue to face economic pressure from its growing young population. The Table also demonstrates that large percentages of GCC populations are under age 14 (at an average of 27 to 42 %), and population growth will become an even more serious problem when this generation enters reproductive age. Even if this generation chooses to have fewer children than its parents’ generation did, the sheer number of people having children may continue to drive up population numbers.

Our third remark is that such rapid population growth has the potential to cause increased popular frustration in at least two ways:

First, population growth requires commensurate economic growth to maintain current standards of living. If economic growth rates do not keep pace, as they have failed to do throughout the Middle East, individual standards of living will decline.

Second, the large youth population increases demand for education, health care, and other social services. Rapidly expanding these services can be problematic even when economic resources are plentiful, and the current economic conditions may prevent the state from meeting the increased demand for these services.

Furthermore, most young people expect higher standards of living than previous generations and may become quite frustrated when economic conditions prevent them from meeting these standards. This trend is particularly salient in the Gulf States, where living standards skyrocketed during the 1970s, and citizens now expect benefits and services that earlier generations did not have at all. To the extent that these expectations are not met, pressures for political reform may grow, particularly among large youth populations, who are more likely to engage in radical causes and opposition movements than their elders.

A growing awareness of the threat by the neighbour Iran in GCC

III - Middle East demographic trends:

Some consequences and perspectives

Some analysts have been focusing on the economic and demographic pressures that drive the Middle East towards terrorism and extremism 11. The threat is driven by forces that are generational, rather than limited to a few years:

  • The Middle East and North Africa are a long-term demographic nightmare. The US Census Bureau estimates that the Middle East is a region where the population will nearly double between now and 2030. The total population of the Gulf has grown from 30 million in 1950 to 39 million in 1960, 52 million in 1970, 74 million in 1980, 109 million in 1990, and 139 million in 2000. Conservative projections put it at 172 million in 2010, 211 million in 2020, 249 million in 2030, 287 million in 2040, and 321 million in 2050.

    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) had a population of 112 million in 1950. The population is well over 415 million today, and approaching a fourfold increase. It will more than double again, to at least 833 million, by 2050.

    The need to come firmly to grips with population growth is all too clear. Some of the most important, and sometimes troubled, countries in the region will experience explosive population growth. Algeria is projected to grow from 31 million in 2000 to 53 million in 2050. Egypt has a lower population growth rate than many of its neighbours, but is still projected to grow from 68 million in 2000 to 113 million in 2050. The Gaza Strip is projected to grow from 1.1 to 4.2 million, and the West Bank from 2.2 to 5.6 million. Iran is estimated to grow from 65 to 100 million, and Iraq from 23 to 57 million. Morocco is projected to grow from 30 to 51 million. Oman will grow from 2.5 to 8.3 million. Saudi Arabia will grow from 22 to 91 million, and Syria from 16 to 34 million. Yemen’s population growth rate is so explosive that it is projected to grow from 18 to 71 million.

    Population growth is creating a “youth explosion.” This growth has already raised the size of the young working age population (ages 20 to 24) in the Gulf area from 5.5 million in 1970 to 13 million in 2000. Conservative estimates indicate it will grow to 18 million in 2010 and to 24 million in 2050. If one looks at the MENA region as a whole, age 20-24s have grown steadily from 10 million in 1950 to 36 million today, and will grow steadily to at least 56 million by 2050.

    The World Bank estimates that some 36% of the total MENA population is less than 15 years of age versus 21% in the US and 16% in the EU. The ratio of dependents to each working age man and woman is three times that in a developed region like the EU. The US State Department has produced estimates that more than 45% of the population is under 15 years of age.

  • Population growth presents major problems for infrastructure. Major problems now exist in every aspect of infrastructure from urban services to education. At the same time, population pressure is exhausting natural water supplies in many countries, leading to growing dependence on desalination, and forcing permanent dependence on food imports. Demand for water already exceeds the supply in nearly half the countries in the region, and annual renewable water supplies per capita have fallen by 50% since 1960 and are projected to fall from 1,250 square meters today to 650 square meters in 2025 – about 14% of today’s global average. Groundwater is being over pumped, and “fossil water” depleted.

  • Much of the region cannot afford to provide more water for agriculture at market prices, and in the face of human demand; much has become a “permanent” food importer. The resulting social changes are indicated by the fact that the percentage of the work force in agriculture has dropped from around 40% to around 10% over the last 40 years. At the same time, regional manufacturers and light industry have grown steadily in volume, but not in global competitiveness.

  • Employment and education will be critical challenges to regional stability. The Gulf already is an area where approximately 70% of the population is under 30 years of age and nearly 50% is under 20. It is also a region where real and disguised unemployment averages at least 20% for young males, where no real statistics exist for women, and where the number of young people entering the work force each year will double between now and 2025. This creates an immense “bow wave” of future strains on social, educational, political, and economic systems whose effect is compounded by a lack of jobs and job growth, practical work experience, and competitiveness. The failure to achieve global competitiveness, diversify economies, and create jobs, is only partially disguised by the present boom in oil revenues. Direct and disguised unemployment range from 12-20% in many countries, and the World Bank projects the labour force as growing by at least 3% per year for the next decade.

  • Hyperurbanization and a half-century decline in agricultural and traditional trades impose high levels of stress on traditional social safety nets and extended families. The urban population seems to have been under 15 million in 1950. It has since more than doubled from 84 million in 1980 to 173 million today, and some 25% of the population will soon live in cities of one million or more.

  • Broad problems in integrating women effectively and productively into the work force. Female employment in the MENA region has grown from 24% of the labour in 1980 to 28% today, but that total is 15% lower than in a high growth area like East Asia. The World Bank does not report trends for the Gulf region but the Middle East and North Africa have had had limited or no real growth in per capita income, and growing inequity in the distribution of that income, for more than two decades. This is reflected in the fact that growth in per capita income in constant prices dropped from 3.6% during 1971-1980 to –0.6% during 1981-1990, and was only 1% from 1991-2000. During this entire period, the disparity between the income of rich and poor tended to increase. The MENA has a region-wide average per capita income of around $2,200 versus $26,000 in the high-income countries in the West.

  • Overall economic growth is too low. The World Bank’s report on Global Economic Development for 2003 shows a sharp decline in economic growth in GDP in the MENA region in constant prices from 6.5% during 1971-1980 to 2.5% during 1981-1990. While growth rose to 3.2% during 1991-2000, it barely kept pace with population growth.

  • The Middle East is not competitive with the leading developing regions. While inter-regional comparisons may be somewhat unfair, the economic growth in East Asia and the Pacific was 6.6% during 1971-1980, 7.3% during 1981-1990, and 7.7% during 1991-2000. The growth in real per capita income in East Asia and the Pacific was 3.0% during 1971-1980, 4.8% during 1981-1990, and 5.4% during 1991-2000.

  • The MENA region is not competitive in trade. It is a region whose share of the world’s GNP and world trade has declined for nearly half a century, where intraregional trade remains limited, and where nearly all countries have states outside the region as their major trading partners. The rhetoric of Arab solidarity – not to say unity - and regional development has little relation to reality.

  • Radical economic changes are affecting regional societies. Agricultural and rural communities have given way to hyper urbanization and slums. Most countries are now net food importers; and must devote a growing portion of their limited water supplies to urban and industrial use. The region cannot eliminate food import dependence at any foreseeable point in the future, and demographics inevitably mean its water problems force economic and social change.

  • “Oil wealth” has always been relative, and can no longer sustain any country in the region except for Qatar, the UAE, and possibly Kuwait. The present boom in oil revenues has greatly eased the financial pressures on many oil-exporting states, but such developments are cyclical and uncertain. Real per capita oil wealth is now only about 15%-30% of its peak in 1980. For example, Saudi Arabia’s per capita petroleum exports in 2002 had less than one tenth of their peak value from $24,000 in 1980 to $2,300 in 2002.

  • In spite of decades of reform plans and foreign aid, there are no globally competitive economies in any of the MENA states. Productivity has been inhibited by problems in education, bureaucratic barriers, a focus on state industry, a lack of incentives for foreign direct investment, a strong incentive to place domestic private capital in investments outside the region, problems in the role of women that sharply affect productivity gain, and corruption. There are beginnings in some countries but there are no real successes as yet, and many states have little more than ambitious plans.

  • Far too many countries have a sustained debt and budget crisis. Most states already cannot afford many of the expenditures they should make or have national budgets under great strain. The end result is to cut back entitlements and investment in infrastructure, and allow state industries to decline. At the same time, many countries still spend far too much on military forces, continue to fail to effectively modernize their forces, and now must spend more on internal security.

  • Immigration is being driven by such forces and creates new challenges of its own. It is hardly surprising therefore, that the Arab Development Report should mention surveys where 50% of the young Arab males surveyed stated their career plan was to immigrate.

The MENA region is less and less attracting for its own lot of white-collar immigrants to Europe and the USA. As to the youth without higher education qualifications, many of them try the clandestine immigration while others turn over to the radical islamism and become militants out of despair.

This is not just a dark picture we depicted, but merely reality. Such a reality might not be pleasing to the governments of the region, although trying to hide it is not a safe and wise policy. The price to pay would rise as long as the current trends of evolution are allowed to progress unhindered. The policymakers concerned with these issues should act through the international and regional structures (UN, GCC, Arab League, etc.) as well as through bilateral and multilateral networks, in order to activate and enforce economic and social planning with the purpose of tackling such problems and creating domestic and regional organisations to provide support, expertise and guidance. In some areas NGOs are still dealing with such issues; and they need to be encouraged because their day-to-day work is not always easy. Their presence on the field (sometimes in remote and risky areas) provide them with invaluable input, and their contact with the citizens involve the latter into positive interaction. It must be clear that it is up to the civil society institutions to lead the necessary reforms, along with the elites of these countries. It is a hard struggle, because some concepts of the social world are quite new for the people out there. The people does not easily follow new political figures, either because they are not enough experienced or because of governmental pressures and threats.

This is why there is a need also to get governments involved in more than political decision-making concerning the social issues at stake. In many countries, demographic and family planning have become institutionalised. What is needed then is exerting a quiet, permanent and firm pressure on the most authoritative of the MENA region states – notwithstanding their declared attitude toward the USA and the West – so that they open up the local social and political scene to opposition elites and groups and critical thinkers, and free the media, and accept the fact that as they are not eternal and omnipotent, the future of their countries has to be decided by the majority in a democratic system, through a transparent free debate.

To be sure, in countries led by traditional elites, some plans concerning birth control for instance will meet resistance. Pressure is therefore needed, which must not be understood as using rough or violent ways but rather campaigning through media, public diplomacy, meetings with political elites and members of parliaments – when they have popular credibility - and other pacific instruments in order to empower the civil society. People should be reminded that development has a price to pay. The industrialised countries would not have reached their present level of progress without the rationalization that tinged all the aspects of the social life. To get along and realize their objectives, the developing countries would have also to sacrifice some of their old ideas and buy into rationalization. Otherwise, they would be compelled to make other painful choices under other heavier pressures.


1 Long-Term Global Demographic Trends: Reshaping The Geopolitical Landscape; July 2001. Eldis, Gateway to Development Information. Eldis Programme at Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9RE UK.

2 Italy has reportedly reached nearly 19 percent elderly (as a reference point, about the same share of elderly as Florida has today) in 2003, followed by Japan in 2005, Germany in 2006, and Spain around 2012. France and Britain will pass that mark around 2016, and Canada and the United States in 2021 and 2023 respectively.

3 Example: By the mid-1970s half of Iran’s population was under 16 and two-thirds was under 30. This directly contributed to the street politics of 1977-79 that contributed to the fall of the Shah and the rise of a government hostile to US interests.

4 A US academic estimates that at current growth rates the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza—which includes many youth— would increase from 1.8 million in 1990 to 4.7 million in 2020 while Israel’s would grow from 4.6 million to 6.7 million over the same period, significantly altering the ethnic balance in the region. Unemployment in Gaza is more than 30 percent, and standards of living are one-tenth as high as in Israel. Moreover, a recent report of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) says that “Youth aged 15 to 24 years account for 20 per cent of total population in the ESCWA region comprising 57 per cent of the Arab youth, while those under 15 are 40 per cent, which implies that around 60 per cent of the population is under the working age after obtaining the first degree of higher education. Given the already high unemployment rates implies that new entrants to the labour market will not be able to enroll in productive employment unless properly equipped with appropriate skills, otherwise will either join the informal sector at increasing rates of underemployment or will remain unemployed. Youth, the majority of new entrants to labour markets will be the main victims”. See : Youth Employment in the ESCWA Region ; Paper prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) for the Youth Employment ; Summit Alexandria, Egypt, September 7– 11, 2002. On this link :

5 J.E. Peterson. “What Makes the Gulf States Endure?” In Joseph A. Kechichian, ed., Iran, Iraq, and the Arab Gulf States (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 452-460.

6 Idem.

7 Idem.

8 Alan Richards, Economic Reform in the Middle East (The Challenge to Governance). In: The Future Security Environment in the Middle East (Conflict, Stability, and Political Change); Edited by Nora Bensahel and Daniel L.Byman. Rand .2004.

9 Idem.

10 Alan Richards, Economic Reform in the Middle East (The Challenge to Governance); in: The Future Security Environment, op. Cit.

11 This section draws heavily on the study of Anthony H. Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid: Saudi National Security: Military and Security Services -Challenges & Developments, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), September 30, 2004.