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La lutte contre la pauvreté chaînon manquant de la Finance Islamique moderne

15 Juin

imam_khomeini

L’Imam Khomeini considérait que religion et pouvoir politique formaient un ensemble indissociable, et que la vocation de l’Islam était de promouvoir la justice, de protéger et de défendre les faibles et les pauvres contre les forces d’oppression de toute nature. Extrait de l’un de ses discours :

«  Nous sommes maintenant arrivés à une étape délicate de notre révolution islamique. L’étape de la reconstruction… où il faut que la grandeur du système islamique se fasse sentir, où nous devons tous nous unir afin d’anéantir les racines de la misère et de la pauvreté.

Vous devez vous unir et vous mobiliser contre la misère et la pauvreté, et avec la bénédiction divine sauver les démunis et les dépourvus… Le logement constitue l’une des plus graves questions de notre société. Auparavant, la plupart des gens étaient esclaves de leurs toits et parfois toute leur vie tributaires des banques, des usuriers et des pillards. La grande foule des déshérités, qui étaient, eux, complètement dépourvus même d’une telle possibilité, demeurant dans les mansardes, les taudis et les réduits insalubres devaient, la plupart du temps, payer la plus grande part de leur salaire comme loyer. Maintenant ce maudit héritage reste encore comme un fléau de la société. L’ordre islamique ne doit pas tolérer une telle discrimination et une telle injustice. Le logement est le minimum auquel a droit chaque individu.

Tous les pauvres doivent bénéficier de cette faveur de Dieu. Tous les démunis doivent pouvoir posséder un logement. C’est au gouvernement islamique de réfléchir à ce grave problème et d’y apporter une solution. C’est aussi au peuple de collaborer et d’apporter son aide. J’invite tous ceux qui en ont la possibilité financière de contribuer pour la construction de logements nécessaires aux plus démunis. Dans chaque localité du pays, il faut choisir au moins trois personnes parmi les plus pieuses et les plus compétentes, des ingénieurs, des responsables religieux et des administrateurs du gouvernement, afin qu’ils entreprennent avec beaucoup d’économies, la construction de logements à bas prix pour les pauvres tout en supprimant le coût du terrain dans le calcul du prix de vente. J’espère que tous les grands propriétaires fonciers en faisant don des sols propices à la construction et à l’urbanisation coopéreront à cette importante entreprise islamique et humaniste. J’espère aussi que tous ceux qui peuvent faire don de matériaux de construction aident ce projet islamique,  que toutes les forces du travail se mobilisent et que le gouvernement prenne les dispositions nécessaires concernant l’urbanisme, la voirie, l’équipement en eau potable, l’électricité, la santé, l’éducation, etc. »

Lire aussi :
Mohammad (paix sur lui), celui qui aimait les pauvres
Quelques principes d’économie en Islam
Algérie : mobilisation du Fonds national de la zakat en faveur de la création de microentreprises

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The missing link between Islamic finance and broader economic development

Ibn Khaldoun, père de l'économie moderne
Ibn Khaldoun, père de l’économie moderne
Perhaps the most well known Islamic scholar who wrote about economics was Ibn Khaldun of Tunisia (1332–1406) who is considered a father of modern economics. Ibn Khaldun wrote on economic and political theory in the introduction, or Muqaddimah (Prolegomena), of his History of the World (Kitab al-Ibar).  

Islam being a universalist religion meant for the entire humanity its agenda or solution regarding poverty is not limited to Muslims, but it embraces the rest of the world. However, in the contemporary context, that might be too ambitious. Indeed, we must evaluate the potential of Islamic economics to alleviate the challenge of poverty in the Muslim world rather than aim to embrace the bigger, global Islamic directive.

Islamic economics was conceived in the early part of the twentieth century as an antidote to socialism and capitalism – an Islamic response to what was perceived as Godless western ideologies. The emphasis was on justice.

Freedom from colonial rule and all that it meant in terms of exploitation and oppression was to be accompanied by a return to Islam that stood for elimination of poverty and reduction in inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. Islam would help securing these goals without socialistic regimentation depriving people of their freedoms and robbing them of their properties. Islamic economy would not allow labor to be exploited by capitalists and the environment to be despoiled by greedy profit seekers.

The advocacy for Islamic economics and re-orienting the economies of the Muslim world on the basis of Islamic ideals and parameters were not merely on the basis of Islamic theological imperative. It was also based on the assessment that the economic teachings of Islam provided a superior alternative in addressing poverty and deprivation as well as achieving development and prosperity. However, notably, the emphasis was quite commonly on economic justice and general welfare of the society.

Muslim jurists have unanimously held the view that the welfare of the people and relief of their hardships is the basic objective of the Shariah. Islam values prosperity and happiness. It teaches the believers to aspire for bounties in both the worlds. The Qur’an, the Prophetic narration and legacy, as well as the period of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs show a remarkable sensitivity to the issues of the poor and disadvantaged.

While it is regularly repeated that Islam is against injustice, exploitation, deprivation and suffering and that historically Muslims have shown remarkable success in dealing with poverty, and linking this success primarily with the institution of zakat, the reality is that except some limited periods, poverty has been widespread in the Muslim world throughout history and rarely it has been dealt with as part of a systematic campaign of poverty alleviation.

However, except for its level of rhetoric, contemporary Islamic finance and banking that has been experiencing phenomenal growth has become primarily a prohibition-driven industry with a legalistic bent, and almost delinked from real economic challenges affecting the majority of the Muslim world.

Indeed, Islamic economics is torn between those who seem to desire simply to ‘Islamize” the current body of economic knowledge that is primarily western and dominated by Classical-Neoclassical-Keynesian thoughts and those who want to reject the conventional economics altogether. The priority of the first group seems to be creating an alternative paradigm in economics that takes the same conventional analytical framework and utilize it to develop something that would be consistent with the fiqhi considerations of Islam. Again, poverty is not the focus of this dominant strand of Islamic economics and finance.

Without constructing any new economics in terms of theories and models, the microcredit movement of Grameen Bank, acknowledging its limitations, has shown a path to addressing poverty. Alternatively, without any new economics, right before our own eyes several East Asian countries experienced their own economic transformation, reducing the incidence of poverty and enhancing the living standard of their populations. In contrast, the edifice of Islamic economics and finance, in all its variations, is focused on constructing a new paradigm, which is worthy and relevant, but taking up the challenge of poverty head–on is not central to their approach.

This lack of a poverty-related focus is not a contemporary phenomenon. Islamic works in general and Islamic economics-oriented literature in particular have not taken up poverty as a challenge that requires a systematic and direct attention. More importantly, our legacy of Islamic scholarship also seems to have not focused on poverty as such an issue. Indeed, the chroniclers of our history seem to have turned the history into annals of the elites and the powerful, not even adequately recording the conditions of the poor and the disadvantaged segments.

Indeed, the scanty works on poverty studies in the Muslim world are almost all by non-Muslims. This is particularly due to the urban focus of the previous historians. Also, notably, such lack of historical accounts of poverty in the medieval Muslim societies is in sharp contrast with the available accounts of other societies of the world.

Such paucity of focus on poverty is understandable in the historical context of a fundamental shift in early Muslim societies, which is also known as the “counterrevolution” reflected in the shift from a representative, accountable, participatory and constitutional governance (khilafah) to hereditary monarchy and dictatorship. While the period of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (khulafa-i-raashidoon) was extraordinarily exemplary in terms of the public commitment to justice, egalitarianism and especially the empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged, by the time that period came to an end, within 50 or so years after the Prophet Muhammad (saw), the power and control had shifted to individuals and clans/groups, who monopolized power, authority as well as resources, where, with some minor exceptions, the governance gradually became elitist, exploitative and insensitive to the conditions of the mass. That’s why the period of the Second Umar (Umar ibn Abdul Aziz), lasting only three years or so, became another period of remarkable change to restore the populist, egalitarian foundation of Islamic governance, both politically and economically. However, he was soon poisoned to death and once again, and in a more lasting manner, the forces of counter-revolution prevailed. It is not the legacy of the Prophet (saw) and the Rightly Guided Caliphs, committed to the cause of justice, egalitarianism and welfare of the common people, but the legacy of this counter-revolution that shaped the subsequent history of the Muslim world and it still continues to shape today.

Relevant anti-poverty programs must help the poor to increase their productive capacity leading to long-term income earning opportunity. The Prophet did leave with us profoundly practical examples to help people become economically self-reliant, as exemplified in his guidance to a poor person to acquire an axe to gather wood and sell for income.

As it is well known, Ibn Khaldun was a trailblazer in systematic study of social phenomenon, but essentially his approach and contribution were ignored, if not rejected, by the subsequent Muslim scholars. The West picked up the contribution of Ibn Khaldun and recognized him as the father of sociology. It is no surprise that Muslim scholars have not even attempted to understand the phenomenon of poverty in a problem-solving manner. Indeed, that understanding of any problem is a prerequisite to identifying its solution is not a common-sense precept that has been recognized and appreciated by our scholars and intellectuals, as reflected in the paucity of poverty-focused works.

The search for the “missing links” between Islamic finance and broader economic development is continuing. The importance of this ‘missing link’ assumes greater importance, where the relevant fields are delinked from maqasid al-Islam and where Islamic finance as a field is marching ahead without parallel progress in social sciences in general and economics in particular from the Islamic perspective. Quite conscientiously, some leading Islamic economists are urging others to wake up to this “intellectual paralysis.”

Recently, Islamic finance industry is also taking interest in microcredit projects, some Islamic economists are making a strong case for Islamic finance industry to take closer interest in microfinance to deal with poverty, but it still remains peripheral to its overall commercial framework of shariah-arbitrage.

Anyone studying Islam and the Qur’an cannot but be struck by its strong emphasis on and commitment to addressing injustices in the society and empowering the weak and the disadvantaged. Islamic economics may not have or need for mathematical sophistication, theoretical elegance or robust analytical apparatus, but to be relevant to the core values and concerns of Islam, it needs to focus on confronting poverty head on, intellectually and practically. This would require studying the problem of poverty in the Muslim world and beyond in terms of its nature, extent and causes.

Then, taking poverty as a focus, solutions have to be mapped out and then tried. No perfect solution is available on a revealed basis. However, beginning with a focus on poverty, equipped with a meaningful and dynamic understanding of poverty, and trying out mapped out solution, our learning curve gradually can help make a serious dent to the challenge of poverty. Otherwise, Islamic economics as an intellectual field and Islamic finance as a practical field can grow and prosper, but the challenge of poverty would continue unabated and that would be the poverty of Islamic economics.

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pdfSource : The Challenge of Poverty and the Poverty of Islamic Economics – Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq


Mohammad Omar Farooq, Upper Iowa University

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
Dr. Omar Farooq is a professor of economics at Upper Iowa University (USA). Dr. Farooq has a PhD in economics from University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His primary field of specialization is international development, with focus on financial institutions / micro-finance, technological development, gender equity, history of economic thoughts, etc. During the past few years his academic and research interests have included Islamic economics, banking, finance, Islamic law and jurisprudence, and Islamic political economy.

 
9 Commentaires

Publié par le juin 15, 2009 dans finance islamique

 

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9 réponses à “La lutte contre la pauvreté chaînon manquant de la Finance Islamique moderne

  1. cecile boleli

    juillet 24, 2011 at 1:28

    je servante de Dieu , mon objectif de consoler les gens qui sont rejetés, abandonnés et les malades abandonnés a l’hopital qui n’ont pas de parents. je suis venue chercher ou toquer auprès de vous pour signer un partenariat pour mon pays qui est en danger de pauvreté, mon pays la RDC avec Mon ONG, GALUCFAVOM. Que Dieu vous Bénisse

     
  2. ribh

    juin 24, 2009 at 6:42

    Indeed power corrupts… and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader’s power has constitutional limits since there is a 86-member Assembly of Experts, which has the power to dismiss the supreme leader.

    I also totally agree with you on the devastating effects of pervasive bureaucracy, and poor education schemes, on creativity.

     
  3. bill greene

    juin 19, 2009 at 3:14

    Thank you for the clarification–In my lack of understanding, I do tend to lump all forms of Islam together as one monolithic structure. Iran may be different, and may represent the Shia you refer to ?

    I quote below an article from Newsmax thast does reveal the issue I have with the lack of separating church and state:

    « Breaking NEWS from Newsmax.com

    Iran’s Khamenei: Election Over, No More Protests!
    TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader said Friday that Iran’s disputed presidential vote had not been rigged, sternly warning protesters to halt massive demonstrations demanding a new election or be held responsible for creating chaos.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sided with hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and offered no concessions to the opposition. He effectively closed any chance for a new vote by calling the June 12 election a « definitive victory. »

    « The speech created a stark choice for candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters: drop their demands for a new vote or take to the streets again in blatant defiance of the man endowed with virtually limitless powers under Iran’s constitution. »

    Apparently, in Iran the religious leader has « virtually limitless powers. » Now, history has shown that power corrupts, that the only sure provision of freedom to a people comes from a division of power within government, and that freedom of thought in secular and scientific affairs can only come when separated from Faith. Iran has no such separation, no Bill of Rights, no provision for the liberty of individuals, and tramples on the rights of women. My theory of economic history indicates that those deficiencies lie at the root cause of Iran’s economic stagnation during the last 800 years. For details, see the « Preface » at http://www.thecommongenius.com

    Averroes’ call for a reform of Islam was never answered. As the leaders in Dubai have shown, the benefits of free enterprise, and the dynamism of a free economy can be gained under Islam. A Prince can rule well for his people only if he rules lightly and empowers the people to use their God-given genius to innovate, build, and investigate all forms of progress.

    Stagnation comes from a failure of leadership to do just that–free their common people. And when the failure continues for 800 years there can be no excuses made for the allegedly harmful events that may have occurred during any particular century or two period. The « magic » of free economies has been demonstrated in an almost timeless manner from the Phoenicians forward over the past 4,000 years. And the deficiencies of theocracies and other « closed » societies have been demonstrated almost as long.

    Naturally, as ribh so correctly states, none of that is anyone’s business. Those suffering under conditions that they could change, but choose not to, can and certainly should be left to solve their own problems. But this posting was about economics and development and my position is that whether we talk about underdeveloped African nations, India, China, or Middle Eastern states, successful development can only come from allowing economic freedom, and by removing the mental, physical and bureaucratic restraints that hold back a people from exercising their native genius. And, it appears that mental restraints can be the most harmful, because it is only the creative, optimistic, and cooperative attitude of a free people that makes for lasting prosperity.

     
  4. ribh

    juin 19, 2009 at 12:39

    You are welcome Bill,

    I would certainly not blame Jesus peace be upon him nor Christianity for the crimes of Bush and his alike. If you wonder What Would Jesus Do, you have the answer here :

    When saying that there is no clergy in Islam, I was talking about the 90% sunni mainstream. Shia is somewhat different. Meanwhile on a principle level I see nothing wrong in a political system in which a college selects the candidates allowed to run for presidency if the country’s constitution is made like that. Why don’t you let each people live their way ? After that if a mistake or a fault occurs they are old enough to solve their problems.

     
  5. bill greene

    juin 18, 2009 at 10:35

    @ ribh

    Thank you for your measured contribution. It is true that the Qur’an and the Bible urge many fine virtues on their imperfect followers, but, I have always looked to results–the way the people live their lives and just how charitable and helpful they are to their fellow human beings. That is why women’s rights under Islam is such a big issue.

    We must recognize that religion plays a vital role in any society. It is not reasonable to separate culture from religion and then place the blame for a country’s failings on its culture, while extolling its religion.

    If you allow that illogical escape, aren’t all the West’s aggressions, disdain, arrogance, and intolerance merely the fault of its culture? After all, Jesus Christ made it very clear we should all be meek, humble, giving, tolerant. Our clergy played a major role in eliminating slavery, urging women’s rights, a wider franchise, and giving equal opportunity to African Americans. When will the Muslim clergy speak out for more human rights in Islamic countries?

    P. S. On another note, you say there are no « priests »–that there is a direct connection with God for all people. Then, who are the « priests » in Iran who selected the 4-5 candidates for national office? That is not separation of religion from the secular world and seems to show oppressive control over the country and its people by the Mullahs?

     
  6. ribh

    juin 18, 2009 at 10:08

    @ Bill Greene :

    First I need to tell you that as a Muslim I do share your vision about empowering people through free thinking, initiative, self reliance… This does not contradict in any way the obedience to the religion. We should also be careful to distinguish what Islam teaches and what imperfect humans can do with these teachings. Intellectual honesty requires that we distinguish Islam from local cultural habits : there is nowhere in Islam a text legitimating honor killings or female circumcision.

    Neither the Catholic Church nor the Protestant Reformation are relevant to Muslims. There is no clergy in Islam : God speaks to us directly and individually through the Qur’an and we talk to him at least 5 times a day in our prayers.

    Muslims are ordered by the Qur’an to manage their affairs on the basis of Shura which means dialogue and mutual advice. Laws can be established according to the necessity. In Islam all that is not explicitly prohibited by a divine rule is allowed. By comparison, the western concept of democracy bears two deadly sins.

    The first flaw is that through democracy men are driven to become Gods onto themselves, legalizing abortion and homosexuality, or prohibiting polygamy. God didn’t destroy any civilization for polygamy (which was practised by Abraham, David, Solomon, and Muhammad peace upon them) but God destroyed the people of Lot for homosexuality. By the way, the West is not against polygamy, the West is only against responsible polygamy in the form of marriage but very open to careless polygamy through free sexual intercourse.

    One of the hallmarks of democracy is the Universal declaration of human rights. For Muslims the Qur’an covers a much broader spectrum, the Qur’an being the Universal declaration of human rights and duties toward the creation and toward the creator. Focusing only on rights certainly brings voices in a poll but by doing so the long term perspective can turn dim.

    The second deadly sin of the western concept of democracy is that it is a versatile concept used selectively by the west to protect western interests. Most the dictators ruling Muslim countries have been imposed by the US, British and French empires. When free elections bring Hamas in Ghaza or the FIS in Algeria, the West intervenes massively to support their opponents and remove them from power.

    The main question is this : will the West let Muslim people throughout the World live according to their choice, trying to give the best of themselves and coexist with them in peace and harmony, or else try to impose its views (either good or bad) upon them and regularly face an unwelcome backlash. Let’s share our common genius… that would be common sense.

     
  7. bill greene

    juin 18, 2009 at 5:49

    There remains some question whether freedom is central to Islam and just how vigorously Islam seeks to free every human mind from tyranny. After all, there are no free elections, and democracy is unknown in Islamic nations.

    Too many commentators on the world scene actually believe nobly stated intentions. They actually rely on words, theories and abstractions instead of on reality and actual behavior. How does one account for the suicide bombers (found almost exclusively among practicing Muslims), that are scorching the earth and many of its innocent women and children in a most irresponsible manner?

    And the lofty intentions and objectives claimed stand in stark contrast to the « stoning walls » where women are shackled so their fellow citizens can stone them to death. This horrific practice, like « Honor Killings, » and female circumcision, and harems, is an exclusively Islamic « achievement, » based on traditional Islamic cultural/religious belief systems.

    History shows that a theocracy can never enable free thinking or creative initiative. The requirements of Faith are spiritual, and that is what sustains mankind, but it is inimical to scientific thought and objective research. Even the Catholic Church, which merely shared power with the kings of Europe, had to be reformed by Martin Luther, and separated from man’s secular affairs. It was only after the Protestant Reformation, when religious freedom and variety was widely permitted, that the industry and prosperity of the West really accelerated. It was Averroes who pointed this out 800 years ago. The Mullah’s have been trying to prove him wrong ever since, but each new century Averroes looks better and better. Such can be the slow pace of historical progress!

     
  8. ribh

    juin 16, 2009 at 3:43

    @ Bill Greene :

    Thanks for your great contribution.

    Indeed freedom is central to Islam. Islam seeks to free every human mind from tyranny – either externally imposed by oppression or internally resulting from one’s desires. To enter in Islam you first need to deny any deity but God’s. Doing that your only limit becomes the infinite… knowing meanwhile that everyone shall bear the consequences of his decisions.

    What has been suffocating the creativity in the Muslim world has much to do with political bias and nothing to do with the Islamic teachings : the Qur’an is an open and repeated invitation for humans to think, seek, build, travel, produce, consume (with measure), exchange, get to know each other, and « urbanise » the earth in a balanced and responsible manner.

    Despite the seven centuries eclipse of the Muslim world, this world is awakening against all odds. You appropriately quote Grameen Bank (which was by the way founded by Ahmad Yunus who is a Muslim). You could have quoted modern Islamic Finance as well which is seen by many, including in the West, as a great innovation though it has deep roots in the Sunna, the Muslim tradition. Many experts recognize that Islamic Finance would have prevented the current financial meltdown.

    As you can see, Muslim minds are not sterile.

    A study published on “FOREIGN POLICY” in 2008 ranks 10 Muslim contemporary thinkers among “The World’s Top 20 Public Intellectuals”. Foreign Policy is published by the Slate Group a division of Washington Post & Newsweek Interactive. You can find the study here :
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4349

     
  9. bill greene

    juin 16, 2009 at 2:19

    This article stresses how Islamic theorists have placed an emphasis on reducing poverty but the results show no progress in achieving that goal. One can only conclude that the leaders either didn’t really want to solve the problem or they have been using the wrong approach. Ibn Khaldun may have provided the right approach–a pro-active « problem solving » approach– but he was ignored. The same fate befell Ibn Rushd, better known in the West as Averroes, the leading 12th century Islamic scholar in Moorish Spain. He sought to separate the secular world from the religious and his books helped inspire the scientists in Western universities create the scientific revolution that moved the West ahead of Muslim nations.

    At that time, another Muslim scholar, Al Ghazali, prevailed in eastern Islamic cultures. His opinions were that all causal events were the work of God, and he opposed the Mutazilites who sought reforms within Islam, and his writings led to the return to fundamentalism in Islamic society. This was a tipping point in history. It was a closing of the islamic mind. As Pervez Hoodboy, head of the physics department in Islamabad, has recently written, « No major invention or discovery has emerged from the Muslim world for well over seven centuries. »

    The secret to Western prosperity, that greatly reduced poverty for all its citizens, lies in two unique societal innovations: First the 12th Century monks started western universities throughout Europe that looked to the hard sciences to solve real world problems. Albertus, Grosseteste, and Bacon founded the scientific revolution that over the next 8 centuries led to Western dominance and economic success. They found a way to separate secular and religious matters. They used Reason to solve physical-scientific questions, and relied on Faith for spiritual sustenance. Theocracies cannot do that because the clerics dominate and crush free thinking.

    The second « secret weapon » was to teach logic and reason in the schools so the populace was free to apply their genius to improve the economic condition of their lives. And that genius, allied with the new separation of secular thinking from religious dogma, allowed the populace to enjoy economic freedom. With a large part of their citizenry armed with a sound « classical » education, and enjoying the security of open and free economies, progress was inevitable. Innovation, ingenuity, enterprise and ambition were unleashed. The inventions followed.

    The Grameen Bank’s success in eliminating poverty is built on this use of micro-finance: the empowerment of individuals at the bottom to pursue their profit-making instincts to build small business. They in turn create big businesses, employment opportunities, etc, etc. Ford Motors, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft, all started with a couple individuals, operating in a machine shop, garage, or small office, but facilitated by an open economy, the security of private property law, and the founders’ sweat and 24/7 efforts. Economic development experts only have to re-create that environment to allow some random common men and women to replicate those success stories.

    The goal is not « poverty elimination » or the removal of all injustices–the goal is freedom, liberty, economic growth and prosperity. Once gained, those achievements will do more to reduce poverty than all the « development programs » and economic theories ever devised by armchair experts. What stifles enterprise is oppression–There are two kinds: the excessive central government regulation, licensing and taxation that restricts actual business activity, or the heavy hand of philosophical/mental/ religious oppression that closes the minds of a populace to the opportunities of creative individual action.

    Islamic scholars only have to look to the « inspiration » of the leadership in Dubai–they saw the need to create an open environment that encouraged business activity for all. Now they are the preferred vacation idyll fot the Middle east with a construction boom fueling fantastic economic growth–all with little natural resources–except the freely exercized efforts of their people–which is after all « The Ultimate Natural Resource. »

     

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