A very interesting essay...Why Have The Islamic Countries Failed To Develop Even With Resources Like Oil, While Countries With No Resources Like Switzerland Have Flourished?
It’s true. Outside of oil and gas projects and a few specific infrastructure projects (ports like Jebel Ali and airports like Dubai), far less real economic development has happened in the oil-rich parts of the Arab world than would be expected based on their great endowment of human and natural resources. The Islamic world isn’t monolithic, and it’s probably worthwhile to address relatively stable oil-rich states separately from Iraq, Iran, and Libya, again separately from other Islamic states without much oil separately from Asian Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. Let’s look specifically at the stable oil rich Arab Islamic states for now. I’m not an academic economist, political scientist, or cultural expert, but I lived in the region from 2004-2010, ran several businesses there, and have experience as a tech entrepreneur in the US and Europe, so I can comment directly on some of the challenges.
(There are some really interesting aspects of Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, and Indonesia which would be interesting to address separately — they demonstrate what happens when some of these trends are reversed and taken too far the other way. Those countries deserve another question.)
Overall, the local standard of living has improved dramatically — walking around Dubai or even a moderately sized city anywhere in the region shows a reasonable standard of living, especially compared to a few decades ago. All those shiny new condo buildings, huge hypermarkets, highways, etc.
However, it’s all consumption of energy wealth, not evidence of other productive economic activity.