With all the recent turmoil in the middle east, something is missing. The real drivers of the conflict are certainly political: the mass of the people want a say in the running of their countries. But equally valid are the economic drivers: the young unemployed want an economically viable future and an education system that supports it. They want wealth creation and a fair non-corrupt distribution of the rewards from wealth creation.
So just a word of caution. We know how countries like China and South Korea have prospered: by a judicious mix of state economic strategy and capitalism: by a hybrid. And we know that pure socialism bankrupted the former Soviet Union and pure capitalism turned Russia in an oil dependent corrupt non-value add state. So perhaps we can develop with say South Korean advice, a new model that creates value adding business in the middle east, and a political and education system to support this. This will not be possible, based on global economic experience, without major steps to educate and improve the status of women. This is key to societal literacy levels and the forward development of the economy. There is a lot of practical and theoretical work to do in this area. Here’s hoping.
And as I have previously posted, the transition to value add will be toughest in oil rich countries which have copted out of the value add struggle and just inhale the oil funded Cool Aid. Somehow they don’t seem to realize: this too will pass and it is critical to invest oil wealth in domestic wealth creation, not to mention plentiful water supplies and social justice. A very tall order.
Here is a comparative feel of the standing of the mid east in the knowledge economy versus some comparable developed countries: