Chapter 5: Arab Culture
Page 104 5— Arab Culture Introduction Western awareness of the Arab world jumped sharply with the events in the oil business of the 1970s (some call it 'oil boom'; others call it 'oil crisis'). Before then few international businesspeople from outside the Arab world had had any direct dealings with Arab executives and little was known about Arab culture in general and Arab business behaviour in particular. At the worst extreme, some commentators depicted a caricature of Arab managerial behaviour 'as an unbounded fatalism apparently unconcerned with rational economic considerations' (Muna, 1980, Foreword). The discovery of oil in the Middle East turned out to be a major turning point for the Arabs: The greatest impact on the economic, political, and social spheres of the oilproducing countries began in the 1960s. Through nationalization of the oil companies in some countries, jointownership plans (participation agreement) in others, and finally through the medium of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the oilrich countries are now able to reap the benefits of ownership and/or control of their oil resources. Needless to say, this development continues to have wideranging effects on the economies both of producing and consuming countries (Muna, 1980, p. 18). Within a period of less than two decades, the economies of the Arab world were transformed (more in some countries than in others) from being agrarian and from trading regionally into becoming industrial with worldwide connections due to revenues earned from a single commodity, that is,...
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