Economy & Business Middle East The Gulf

Report

August 17, 2021

Whither the Arabs: The end of the welfare state and the start of a journey into the unknown

By Hani K. Findakly, Kevin A. Findakly

Arab countries, rich and poor, large and small, are rapidly approaching a moment of reckoning. A confluence of anachronistic governance, economic mismanagement, and disruptive technology, which has changed the dynamics of both the supply and demand for hydrocarbon fuels and raw materials, is pushing the region to a tipping point. Together, these factors spell an end of the welfare state and an irreversible break in the social compact that has been in place for the past five decades. The COVID-19 pandemic is merely the canary in the coal mine that serves to expose the region’s problems and inject further uncertainty into its economic future.

Neither future instability nor secular stagnation are foreordained for the region. In a new Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative report, “Whither the Arabs: The End of the Welfare State and the Start of a Journey into the Unknown,” Dr. Hani K. Findakly and Mr. Kevin A. Findakly argue that a positive outcome is predicated on adopting a cogent new social compact with a strategy for an inclusive political, social, and economic system. The authors go on to outline three possible scenarios for the future of the region.

Middle East Programs

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.