Economic growth in the Arab countries of the Middle East, excluding Iraq, averaged 5.1 percent in 2000 thanks to higher oil prices, a UN report said Tuesday. Hazem Biblawi, secretary general of the Beirut-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said the estimated 2000 growth compared with only 2.6 percent in 1999 and 1.7 percent in 1998.
Presenting an ESCWA report, Biblawi said the growth was due "principally to the improvement in petroleum revenues due to rises in production and prices." The ESCWA is made up of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Syria and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian territories.
Total oil revenues rose 70.8 percent from a year earlier to $166 billion, the report said. Consequently, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait—posted the strongest growth, averaging 5.8 percent.
Egypt, Jordan and Yemen posted 3.2 percent growth rates, Syria was at 1.5 percent growth and Lebanon at a rate of 1.0 percent. The Palestinian territories saw a decline in growth of 3.5 percent due to the Israeli blockade on their economy. Iraq saw no improvement in its economic performance. — (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2000