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Politics and Development of the Middle East



[BSc], GED, ID, PSc

Admission Requirements

Similarly-tagged 200/300-level courses or permission from the instructor.


The importance of understanding the economics of the Middle East has grown since the recent turmoil affecting this region. This course provides an overview of the most important issues facing the region, ranging from oil, economic reform, business politics to the issue of migration and water scarcity. The course is organized thematically in an attempt to provide both historical, theoretical as well as comparative depth to the study of the political economy of the region. We will attempt to answer the following questions: Can the ‘Arab Spring’ be explained by economic factors? Is oil a hindrance to economic and political development? Why is there a lack of regional economic integration? How do states respond to the challenges of globalization? How can human development be improved in the region?

The aim is to provide you with the tools to critically assess developments in the Middle East. The thematic structure of the course is intended to foster a comparative approach when analyzing major trends in the region.

Course Objectives

Knowledge of theories of development and their application to the Middle East

  • Be able to critically examine how political factors affect economic change and vice versa
    in the Middle East

  • Be able to distinguish between general trends affecting the region as a whole as well as
    the important differences between countries within the region

  • Be able to use case studies, development theories and historical backgrounds to
    formulate an argument regarding the challenges faced by the countries in this age of globalization


A Political Economy of the Middle East (fourth edition), by Alan Richards, Ishac Diwan, John Waterbury, Melani Cammett.

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction to the political economy of the Middle East
Week 2: Economic growth in the Middle East
Week 3: Oil
Week 4: Crisis and adjustment
Week 5: State-business relations
Week 6: Migration and labour markets
Week 7: Themes in human development
Week 8: Challenges for the region

Preparation for first session