Gulf economies will thrive; to stay oil-based
Manama, May 2, 2010
An optimistic outlook has been predicted for the Gulf region by 2020, when its economy will flourish despite political stagnation.
Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar are the most likely to follow this prediction as they are thriving and growing in the right direction, according to a visiting scholar.
However, the Gulf countries will continue to live off interest revenues derived from oil sales, said Qatar-based Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service interim dean Dr Mehran Kamrava.
'The economy will continue to be oil-based and it will define this part of the world, in terms of economic sector,' he said.
'Over the next 10 years, we will continue to see the economic ascendance of small Gulf states like Bahrain, resulting in increasing strength and impact on regional foreign policy.'
Dr Kamrava was in Bahrain to give a lecture A Vision 2020 of the Middle East, which was held at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
He also speculated that politics in the region would continue as usual.
However, countries that consider themselves to be 'regional superpowers' such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran will get regional realignments, said Dr Kamrava.
'However, for me, I don't know what Iran is doing and I think their leaders don't know where are they going either.'
The continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine was predicted by the scholar to be a 'never ending peace process'.
'We cannot also ignore the following facts, which is a lack of parity, an absence of peace and true war,' he said.
'The situation will continue and there is no peace process.'
Dr Kamrava said that Palestine would adopt one of the three models in the future.
The first model is the Tibetan Model, which means Palestine will slowly disappear like Tibet.
It might reappear, however, like East European countries that were part of the Soviet Union, said Dr Kamrava.
The third option is it will be a small entity and be an example of Gaza, with not much freedom and independency, he added. 'It will be a native American reservation model,' said Dr Kamrava.
'I hope it's not the first option and I am sure a lot are hoping it will be the second, but we cannot speculate now which one it'll be.'
Food security will be a challenge in the future for the region, as people might not be able to afford the prices, according to the scholar.
'But rich countries are already taking a step to solve the problem by buying lands in Asian countries such as India to secure food for the future,' he said.
'This issue will change policies in all countries, as military power will not make a country stronger, but its water and food security.'
Dr Kamrava also said that due to population increases, countries would need to slow it down to afford such rapid growth.
However, he didn't think water would cause the next war, as money will be able to find solutions. 'When there is a will there is a way,' said Dr Kamrava.
'There are only three countries in the region that are water sufficient - Iran, Lebanon and Turkey. 'They might even make money out of this in the future.'
Other predictions for the Middle East region also included that American footprint would continue to be visible in the region as well as Israeli dominance. Dr Kamrava also added he does not speculate democracy would come anytime soon to all Middle Eastern countries.
'I see the situation in the region to be the same,' he said.
'I hope, alongside social scientists, that I'm wrong.'
He said that countries needed to implement their talk about the future belonging to the young and turning it to a reality.
'It is often said but not implemented and leaders need to move towards that direction,' said Dr Kamrava.
The scholar is an expert in political development and Middle Eastern politics.
He is an author of nine books, including The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since the First World War.
Dr Kamrava is also Centre for International and Regional Studies director, which is also part of the university.-TradeArabia News Service