NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 18, 2004

The United Nations' Arab Human Development Report, written by Arab political scientists and scholars, suggests that the plight of 22 Arab nations, comprising some 300 million people, is primarily the result of comparatively backward and oppressive governments, not Western capitalism.

The Arab countries scored the lowest of all world regions as to freedom, the political process, civil liberties, political rights and media independence. Other findings:

  • There are 65 million illiterate adults in the Arab world, with half of Arab women unable to read or write.
  • There is a severe shortage of new writing: in the last 1,000 years Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year.
  • Spain, a country of 41 million people boasts a greater gross domestic product (GDP) than the GDE of all the 22 Arab countries combined.

Moreover, despite the presence of oil in many Arab countries, the region remains underdeveloped -- per capita income growth is just above that of sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades.

Source: Larry Elder, "War on terror: winning the hearts and minds -- here at home,", October 14, 2004.


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