Economics -- Middle Eastern and North African Regional Trends

Figure 1.-- Agriculture was invented in the Middle East--Mesopotamia. The River Valley provided the basis for rich harvests, but in an arid region there was only so far agriculture could go. While the Golden ge of Islam broght the possibility of innovation and scientific advance. Islamic clerics took the Middle East dowm a different road of narrow relgious teaching. At the same Christian clerics took Europe in a different direction--the Raenaissance and productive, diversified economy.

Civilization began in Mesopotamis with the Agricultural Revolution (aromd 8,000 BC). And for most of recorded history human history agriculture was the mainstay of Middle Eastern ecomomies and most other economies. The River Valley civilzatiins had an advantage over other civiliaztions ni that river vally soil was fertile and constantly being enriched by periodic flooding and water was always available. This meant that even the most basic technolog could achieve substantial harvests. In the lon run, however, there were limits on economic develiopment. While land in the 1) Tigris-Euphrates valley , 2) Nile Vally, and 3) Indus Valley was productive, most of the surrounding land was virtuallyh sterile desert. Only about 15 percent of the land is suitable for farming and in most other other countries there was no major river as well as wide areas of desert and largely unprocductibr acrubland. As a result, the original River Valley cibilatiioins nehan to give way to more technologically advanced civilizations. Wheat and barley were the most impotant food crops. Figs and dates were grown in desert oases and citrus fruits in the Mediterranean coastal region. Over time cotton, coffee, and tobacco became important. Livestock raising also became important. Agricultural surplluses resulted in the rise of the first cities. And here we see the beginning of handicraft industries. This included both artistry and the productiin of products with practical uses like clay pots and mud brricks. Great empires arose that gradually absorbed the river valleys. This all led to the developmenhy of an important merchant class. While the Middle East lacked major resources like lumber and metasl, its location betwwen Asian and Europe giving Middle Eastern merchants a huge competive advantage. The Golden Age of Islam had created the most advanced civilization which came cliose to inventing science. Then Islamic clerics led the Middle East into a scientific black wole. At the same tome just the opposities occurred in Europe. The Christian Church led Europe into the Renaisssamce and a newwotldof modernity and scienve. Middle Eastern economies continued a long decline with the European maritime expansion that connected Europe and the East over sea routes (15th century). This reduced much of the Middle Wast to poverty. And it did not cahnge untilthe developmen of oul fields (20th century). Unfortunately, the region even with the oil money has failed to develop modern economies.


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Created: 8:54 PM 9/22/2019
Last updated: 8:54 PM 9/22/2019