The Middle East is one of the most militarized regions in the world and accounts for most of the globe’s arm sales. People from the Middle East have usually been connected to violence and terrorism especially after the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States. This racism continues to grow and one has only to delve deeper into the underlying facts, history and people to fully grasp and understand the region that is the Middle East.
Having a population of about 350 million people, the Middle East is among the fastest growing region in terms of population. Population growth is estimated to be at 3% per year which means that the population of any given state will double in over 20-30 years. Saudi Arabia for example has a population growth rate of 3.5%. Considering this, population density is also increased due to the growing number of inhabitants. The population density of UAE is 30 square kilometers for every person while that of Oman is 13 sguare kilometers for every person. However, due to hostilities that happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, mortality rates increased. Nevertheless, it does not stop the growth in population due to the young age structure in the region. Urbanization rate continue to increase as well as fertility rates of women. This increase in the population rate is a centripetal force that affects the economy of the region. Due to this rapid increase, it is taking a toll on the region’s resources because there are more mouths to feed. Resources such as water, medicine and education are becoming limited due to the increase in numbers.
The ethnic group that is dominant in the Middle East is the Arab group. Other ethnic groups are the Turkic, Jewish, Persian and the Kurds. Languages being spoken are Arabic, Persian, and Turkish which are among the top three most spoken, followed by other minority languages such as Greek, Syriac, Hebrew and Kurdish. In addition to ethnicity and language, there are different religions that are present in the Middle East. Islam dominates all the other religions followed by Judaism and Christianity. Before the various conflicts that arised in the Middle East, religious conflict in the Middle East dates back to the time of the Crusaders where European knights captured Jerusalem. To this day, conflicts ensuing with regards to religion are still present. The strong beliefs in Islam that are deeply rooted in the Middle Eastern psyche is another centripetal force that revolves within the region. In this time and age, it is very observable that the Middle East still remains to be a region that is very sensitive in the subject of religion.
The Middle East was under the Ottoman rule for a long time. That was a time when other nations took interest in the resources and arable lands of the region. France and Britain during the European colonial times took control of the Middle East from the Ottomans who lost their empire after losing WWI beside Germany. They only gained independence starting the 1920’s and eventually formed their own government which is mostly ruled by dictators and monarchs. Forces both centripetal and centrifugal concern the security of the Middle East because of acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Centripetal in a way that it paves the way for political terrorism and centrifugal when it will be used to go against foreign forces considering the current interest being shown by the US in Middle East resources.
The economy of the Middle East is projected to have a positive rate of growth. Countries that have large economies based on income include Saudi Arabia and UAE which are oil-producing countries. The economic structure of the Middle East is heavily dependent on oil and oil-related products. Due to this, the rise and fluctuations of the price of oil in the world market is a strong force that affects the economy. Because of it’s unpredictability, the Middle East have now expanded their income source means to banking, tourism and agriculture. Jordan and Yemen stays to be among the poorest in the region.
The Middle East is a region that has a rich cultural and religious background. The different struggles and conflicts of this region both internal and external have helped shaped and strengthen the people’s natural identity. It is also a region that has a valuable resource that is very important to the world. One cannot blame the people for protecting what they believe is theirs — a region the bask in richness, not only in lands but in culture.
“The Middle East”. 2010. Wheeling Jesuit University. 6 June 2010