The topic I chose to blog about as part of this lesson, was the growing wealth disparity in the Middle East. Prior to the discovery of oil, the Middle East had historically operated in a very peaceful way. I wanted to better understand the disparity between the rich and poor, what caused it, and why the challenges with it exist to this day.
Historically the Middle East has been a very stable region. However, after WWI the monarchy made the decision to break with tradition and divide the region into different countries like Syria, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan were born (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). Prior to this the entire region operated more like a high-synergy society with the populations operating more for the greater good than those in an individualist (low-synergy) societies (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014).
The change required countries to learn to operate more independently and autonomously than they had previously know. Countries had to learn to govern and manage themselves. It was during this time that a clash between old and young emerged. Countries saw a younger population introducing new ideas less in line with traditional and political views of the older population. Many of these new ideas differed from a high-synergy community view point and began to slant towards a more individualist, low-synergy, societal style of thinking.
With the discovery of oil in the 1900’s a new shift in wealth took hold as countries rich with oil reserves witnessed an extreme accumulation of wealth versus other countries in the Middle East. Still operating largely under a monarchy, the King and his extended family owns or controls much of the countries wealth which created extremes on both ends of the spectrum. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty emerged. The seeds of discontent were sown (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014).
Countries in the Middle East lacking the natural resources that other oil rich countries possess have been forced to alternative opportunities for their constituents. Jordan, for example, has developed a successful college and secondary education system with almost 70% of Jordanian students moving successfully through to a secondary degree (CIA, n.d.). The results have been the creation of a highly educated population that unfortunately enter the workforce with low or no employment opportunities.
Countries like Saudi Aribia and the United Arab Emirates have been the benefactors of natural resources identified within their country. It’s easy to see, as evidenced by counties like Jordan, that the accumulation of individual wealth in any centralized society at the expense of others, can foster conflict between rich and poor. The wealth received by a limited few at the expense of others only furthers that divide. Lacking the opportunity to better one’s self and one’s life, creates and even greater disparity.
Becoming a successful leader requires an appreciation of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Seeking new ways to get the most out of your constituents and operating in a collective manner, has the ability to create opportunities. Today’s natural resources enrich some. However, in a fast-moving society, what’s essential today may not be what’s needed or desired tomorrow. Great leaders invest in tomorrow.
Central Intelligence Agency, (n.d.). The World Factbook, Middle East : Turkey. Retrieved from, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tu.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences: Leadership skills and strategies for working in a global world. New York: Elsevier.