SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Economic development of the Middle East

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is the 0.5 unit version of Applied Economics of the Middle East I (15PECC028) and Applied Economics of the Middle East II (15PECC029), available to students studying MA Area Studies programmes. The course will be co-taught with the MSc equivalents.

The course covers various aspects of the economic development and political economy of the modern Middle East and North Africa.  In the first term the course looks at the role of oil companies in the region, the historical experience of trade liberalisation, labour markets, demography and migration, growth and industrialization in resource rich economies.  In the second term it looks at the effect of globalisation on the region, the political on the region, the political economy of aid flows to MENA, the role of IMF and World Bank economic liberalisation in countries of the region and liberalisation in specific  sectors such as privatisation of state enterprises, financial sector liberalisation and agricultural sector reform.  Social welfare issues are examined in the form of food security and social safety net programmes and the second term concludes with case country studies of economic liberalisation.  

Students pursuing a degree external to the Department of Economics should contact the convenor for approval to take this module.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the socio-economic features and structural characteristics of the MENA economies
  • Develop a clear understanding of the economic history of the region since the 19th century in general, and be able to assess the impact of integration into the emergent international economy, in particular.
  • Attempt to classify the MENA economies according to their different structural characteristics (oil and non-oil economies, labour surplus and labour deficit economies, small and large, agrarian economies).
  • Discuss and apply key concepts of economic policy analysis to contemporary problems and opportunities in areas relating to the key natural resource (oil) and human resources (population and migration) within the MENA countries.
  • Explore the implications of the theory of exhaustible resources for the oil sector and to analyse the role and significance of OPEC in oil price determination at an international level.
  • Understand the problems of industrialization in resource based economies.
  • Understanding of the process of population transition in the MENA region and its implications for economic growth.
  • Understand the reasons why a process of economic liberalisation was needed in the MENA region. Conceptualise the characteristics of an economic liberalisation programme and its sectoral implications.
  • Be familiar with the key debates surrounding the process of liberalisation and be able to articulate arguments both for and against different dimensions of economic liberalisation in the context of MENA.
  • Understand the social welfare and political implications of economic reform at both a regional and country-specific level. 
  • Present country case study examples of the economic, social and political experience of liberalisation.

Suggested reading

There is no textbook which covers this course as taught, but the following is a useful reference:  

  • Richards A.  and J. Waterbury (2006), A Political Economy of the Middle East, State:  Class and Economic Development, Boulder Colorado:  Westview.
 Other Useful Texts:
  • Karshenas, M. and V.M. Moghadam (2006), Social Policy in the Middle East:  Economic, Political and Gender Dynamics.  Basingstoke:  Palgrave Macmillan publishers, 2006.
  • Harrigan, J. and El-Said, H. (2009), Aid and Power in the Arab World:  The IMF and World Bank Policy-Based Lending in the Middle East and North Africa, Pagrave Macmillon.
  • Hakimian, H. and Z. Moshaver (eds, 2000), The State and Global Change:  The Political Economy of Transition in the Middle East and North Africa, London:  Curzon Press.
  • Harrigan, J. (2014) The Political Economy of Arab Food Sovereignty, Palgrave Macmillan.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules