Current iIssues

Unravelling the Complexities of the Middle East

During the course, we have been able to unravel and demystify the complexities of the Middle East. Our exploration has taken us through topics such as the history of Islam and authoritarianism, which have contributed to a better understanding of how the region is perceived.

We delved into the historical perspective of Islam and its role in the Middle East. One of the main questions that we raised was whether religion is unchanging. Our consensus was that religion is not static but evolves to adjust to the constantly changing worlds of politics and economics. The book ‘Islam and Politics: A Fixed Relationship?’ by Dietrich Jung further emphasises this adaptability, particularly in neo-fundamentalist Islam. These findings have improved our understanding of how Islam gains influence within Middle Eastern societies and globally.

We also discussed the importance of energy in the Middle East. Oil production is a vital component of the economy, but it also raises the issue of the resource curse that plagues nations that rely heavily on natural resources. Despite this challenge, the Middle East has shown impressive resilience in partially avoiding this curse by diversifying its economy. This has demonstrated its capacity to maintain economic stability beyond oil and gas. Furthermore, we discussed the prevalence of the oil and energy sectors dominating the economy and the significant political, social, and economic implications.

Although Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern nations are labelled as authoritarian regimes, they remain heavily reliant on the US dollar. This highlights the lasting economic influence of the United States in the region and reveals the Middle East’s cooperative relationship with international powers, on which they rely for sustained economic growth.

In summary, our journey has taken us through the intricacies of the Middle East. Through our exploration of the adaptive nature of religion, the challenges and opportunities associated with energy and the economy, and the region’s cooperative relationship with international powers, we have gained a better understanding of this complex and fascinating part of the world.

Claire Risstrom

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