The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview

MIDDLE EASTERN DEVELOPMENT -- ANOTHER MISSING LINK

by A. F. MILLS

MOST OF US have gone through phases of hope and gloom as we have contemplated Arab economic development during the years since the war. Some of the achievements, in Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, or Syria, in both public and private enterprise, have given deep satisfaction to those of us who wish to see the Middle East bloom again with the wealth and culture which were its glory in past ages. The new dams, irrigation and drainage schemes, the new ports, the lofty new edifices all remind us that the Arab world is alive to what is modern, efficient, and large-scale in conception in this dynamic twentieth century. But these moments of hope are overtaken all too rapidly by reminders elsewhere of the obstacles to progress. The conflicting undercurrents in the political field, the gulf between rich and poor which, through the insidious pressure of inflation, has been widening in many communities in the Middle East, the voices of men who are suspicious of Western values as also of Western science: these are only the worst of the obstacles.

One of the most stimulating comments on Middle Eastern development that have appeared in recent years referred to a missing link in the economic process, namely entrepreneurship. It appeared in the 1954 issue of the Middle East Economic Papers, published by the Economic Research Institute of the American University of Beirut, in an article by Professor A. J. Meyer. We realized that by a stroke of insight Professor Meyer had focused our minds on one of the deeper secrets of thwarted progress. You cannot develop an economy unless there are the persons with vision to discover where change can occur, and who have the initiative, the

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