“Someone’s gain is another one’s pain,” thus goes the proverb which precisely applies to the current political atmosphere in the Arab-Israeli conflict. A report recently issued by the International Monetary Fund following its annual conference showed that the Arab oil-exporting countries – Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, and Syria – have achieved $700 billion profits from oil and gas exports this year, and these profits are expected to hit $850 billion in case oil prices reached $100 a barrel. To the chagrin of Israeli politicians, these countries have achieved $2.1 trillion in oil exports in the past three years.
Expecting that oil revenues in the Arab countries will hit $1 trillion in 2008, the report pointed out that since oil prices have taken an upturn, poverty rates in these countries have decreased by 25%. It added that the per capita share of gross domestic production has increased, and water and electricity services have now reached 90% of the citizens of these Arab countries.
All these positive figures have rung alarm bells for the Israeli government which, according to the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, cannot ignore them. According to the widely circulated paper, the entire world will knock the doors of these countries, and will do without the services of Israel.
The paper added that a country like the Arab United Emirates, whose coming five-year investment plans are estimated at $800 billion, would be a key player in the world economy. The paper pointed out that the signing of a peace treaty with the Palestinians could pave the way for the normalization of relations with these rich Arab countries.
The growing economies of the Arab oil-rich countries are creating a new Middle East in which the Israeli role could be marginalized. The Israelis, in fact, are eyeing trade and joint investments with these countries, according to observers. The paper reported that opening new markets for Israeli products in these countries could spur annual growth from 5 to 10 percent. The paper went as far as describing as anti-Zionist those who prefer to keep Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to opening embassies in Riyadh and Doha and markets for Israeli products in Arab countries. Keeping away from these rich countries, observers say, will endanger the Israeli existence.
By Mohamed El-Sayed