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Economics

Women Can Move the Middle East Beyond Oil

Tech-driven growth requires greater freedom and tolerance.
The missing half.

The missing half.

Photographer: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Throughout the Middle East, the plunge in oil prices is creating economic shock waves. And with international sanctions on Iran being lifted, Gulf stock markets are not convinced that the economic situation will improve anytime soon. The Middle East must start to contemplate life beyond oil; and that will require an economic model which, as in the West, depends on technologically-driven economic growth.

It’s clear that the Middle East has a long way to travel. The Global Creativity Index, which ranks economies according to technology, talent and tolerance, places Iran 57th, Syria 75th, Saudi Arabia 83rd, Kuwait 86th, and Iraq last at 139th. These rankings belie the region’s long pedigree when it comes to inventiveness. From the birth of farming and the invention of the first manufacturing technologies to the development of towns and cities and the emergence of the written word, the Middle East was (along with China and Pakistan) at the very center of the action -- and for millennia.