Economic Systems in the Middle East:

Peter Sluglett

Economic History:

Since the mid- 19th century, the Middle East has taken part in the production of cash crops for over sea markets. The cash crops were agricultural in the 19th and 20th century, they got cotton from Egypt, silk from Lebanon, and many types of grains from Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. Now, since the mid- 20th century, the main export is oil which comes from some countries. However, the countries that do not have the oil, supply the labor. After the 1950's the USSR (Union of Soviet socialist Republics), intruded the economies of Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and South Yemen. The governments of the countries took over and helped control major industries. In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the food subsidies and easy access to health care, education, and welfare. Iran, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey received help from the west with financial or technical aid and military supplies.
The Middle East supplies 55 percent of the worlds petroleum reserves and 26 percent of its natural gas. They can be found in the countries Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There is also the countries Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain which also have reserves but are much smaller.
The Middle East’s manufacturing has grown due to the small size of local and regional markets. However, like Egypt and Turkey they have manufacturing sectors that contribute significantly to their economies.


The agricultural imports are food and raw materials. They also import mining products such as non-ferrous metals (metals containing no iron) and they also import chemicals. Their main imports are machinery and transport equipment, which include automotive products, office and telecoms equipment, textiles, and clothing.


Their exports also include food and raw materials and mining products. The mining products include ores and other minerals, fuels, and non-ferrous metals. The manufactures include iron, steel, and chemicals. The machinery and transport equipment exports are the same as the imports. (automotive products, office and telecoms equipment, textiles, and clothing.)
Image1-2 These are two non-ferrous metals imported and exported by Middle Eastern countries.


Eric V. Thompson
The Middle East's main income source is the oil in the region. Most of the world's oil resides in the Middle East. The major oil companies such as BANOCO (The Bahrain National Oil Company) and NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) produce most of the Middle East's income because the region contains a vast majority of the world's oil. These are obviously only the two major oil companies from Bahrain and Iran. For almost all of the oil companies in the Middle East, click the link above.

These are some Iranian oil refineries.