nep-ara New Economics Papers
on Arab World
Issue of 2010‒07‒24
six papers chosen by
Quentin Wodon
World Bank

  1. Trade and Geography in the Economic Origins of Islam: Theory and Evidence By Stelios Michalopoulos; Alireza Naghavi; Giovanni Prarolo
  2. The Oil-Based Economies International Research Project. The Case of Iran By Fereydoun Verdinejad; Yasaman Gorji
  3. Price Discrimination in Practice: The Market for Drugs in Egypt and the U.S. By Rania Zaher Naguib
  4. The renewable energy targets of the Maghreb countries: Impact on electricity supply and conventional power markets By Brand, Bernhard; Zingerle, Jonas
  5. Euro-Mediterranean Process - Union for the Mediterranean: Macroeconomic and financial developments during the global crisis at the southern rim of the Mediterranean By Montero Luque, Inmaculada Maria; Peeters, Marga
  6. Business Competitiveness in Bahrain: A Synopsis By Pillai, K R

  1. By: Stelios Michalopoulos (Tufts University); Alireza Naghavi (University of Bologna and FEEM); Giovanni Prarolo (University of Bologna and FEEM)
    Abstract: This research examines the economic origins of Islam and uncovers two empirical regularities. First, Muslim countries, virtual countries and ethnic groups, exhibit highly unequal regional agricultural endowments. Second, Muslim adherence is systematically larger along the pre-Islamic trade routes in the Old World. The theory argues that this particular type of geography (i) determined the economic aspects of the religious doctrine upon which Islam was formed, and (ii) shaped its subsequent economic performance. It suggests that the unequal distribution of land endowments conferred differential gains from trade across regions, fostering predatory behavior from the poorly endowed ones. In such an environment it was mutually beneficial to institute a system of income redistribution. However, a higher propensity to save by the rich would exacerbate wealth inequality rendering redistribution unsustainable, leading to the demise of the Islamic unity. Consequently, income inequality had to remain within limits for Islam to persist. This was instituted via restrictions on physical capital accumulation. Such rules rendered the investments on public goods, through religious endowments, increasingly attractive. As a result, capital accumulation remained low and wealth inequality bounded. Geography and trade shaped the set of economically relevant religious principles of Islam affecting its economic trajectory in the preindustrial world.
    Keywords: Religion, Islam, Geography, Physical Capital, Human Capital, Land Inequality, Wealth Inequality, Trade
    JEL: O10 O13 O16 O17 O18 F10 Z12
    Date: 2010–06
  2. By: Fereydoun Verdinejad (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran & Economic History Department, Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, University of Milan, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei); Yasaman Gorji (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran & Economic History Department, Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, University of Milan, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)
    Abstract: In order to activate the cycle of wealth production, promote social justice and eliminate poverty and inequality, developing countries are currently faced with a multiplicity of structural problems. According to some economic theories, this is mainly due to inefficient or lack of access to financial resources, which has proved a major obstacle in activating the cycle of wealth production in such countries. On this assumption, countries with huge oil reserves including Iran, should not encounter obstacles in terms of creating and accelerating the national cycle of wealth production. However, the fact is almost all major oil-producing countries and the main exporters of petroleum products in the world are dealing with serious structural issues in establishing a natural cycle of wealth production and a cycle of wealth and income distribution. In order to examine the dependence of Iran’s economic systems (as one of the major exporters of petroleum products) on oil revenues, the paper shall first present an overview of the energy sector in these countries by expounding on their conditions and features and redefine the issue. Thus, in addition to an overview of Iran’s unique geographical and demographic features and a brief account of its history of oil discovery and its effects on the country’s continuum of social and historical events, the paper is going to elaborate on its oil and gas reserves and resources. In the end, considering the huge effect of petroleum export on Iran’s annual budget and its economy and the country’s necessities and obligations, the paper explains some strategies for reducing the economy’s dependence on oil and gas resources in the future and the main obstacles to implementation of these strategies.
    Keywords: Oil-Based Economies, Iran, Wealth Production, Income Distribution
    JEL: O O43 Q43 Q48
    Date: 2010–06
  3. By: Rania Zaher Naguib (Faculty of Management Technology, The German University in Cairo)
    Abstract: This paper attempts to analyze the medical and economical reasons that cause a difference in the price elasticity of patients' demand to drugs between Egypt and the United States of America. The study was based on two medicines produced by Pfizer (Lipitor and Viagra), with both of them available in Egypt as well as the United States. The result of this study reflected that Egyptians are more sensitive to the changes in price relative to Americans for both Lipitor and Viagra because of different economical and medical factors.
    Keywords: Price Discrimination, Pharmaceutical Industry
    JEL: I11 D42
    Date: 2010–07
  4. By: Brand, Bernhard (Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln); Zingerle, Jonas (Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln)
    Abstract: Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, the three countries of the North African Maghreb region, are showing increased efforts to integrate renewable electricity into their power markets. Like many other countries, they have pronounced renewable energy targets, defining future shares of “green” electricity in their national generation mixes. The individual national targets are relatively varied, reflecting the different availability of renewable resources in each country, but also the different political ambitions for renewable electricity in the Maghreb states. Open questions remain regarding the targets’ economic impact on the power markets. Our article addresses this issue by applying a linear electricity market optimization model to the North African countries. Assuming a competitive, regional electricity market in the Maghreb, the model minimizes dispatch and investment costs and simulates the impact of the renewable energy targets on the conventional generation system until 2025. Special emphasis is put on investment decisions and overall system costs.
    Keywords: North Africa; Renewable energy sources; Electricity markets
    JEL: L94 Q42
    Date: 2010–07–14
  5. By: Montero Luque, Inmaculada Maria; Peeters, Marga
    Abstract: Although the global financial and economic crisis hurt economies worldwide, the economies at the southern Mediterranean region have done relatively well to weather this global hurricane. Economic growth in the region has slowed down but the size of the trough of these economies' business cycle has ultimately been dependent on the length and vigour of domestic economic policy reactions. Escaping from a difficult period featuring soaring food and oil prices the economies of the southern Mediterranean region are faced with new challenges that impact both their real and financial sectors, as negative effects from their real sector spilled over to their financial sectors. This chapter analyzes recent macroeconomic, monetary and financial developments, the use of fiscal, monetary and financial policy instruments, the volatility at their financial markets, trade openness and the imperative need for good governance which is the umbrella under which economic policy instruments are called to operate.
    Keywords: Mediterranean union; macroeconomics; global crisis;
    JEL: F4 E2
    Date: 2009–08
  6. By: Pillai, K R
    Abstract: Unbridled freedom to private business sector is a harbinger of business collapse and eventually the economic landscapes of nations. We have had ample examples very recently. Hence, suitable rules and regulations are essential in conditioning favourable business environment. The ease of doing business can be understood by the availability of a cross section of factors such as clarity of property rights, low cost of resolving disputes, predictability of economic policies and situation, protection to investments, impartial redressal mechanism, the freedom and low cost retrenchment policy and exit, ease of resource mobilisation etc. This report reviews two annual reports on Doing Business pertaining to Kingdom of Bahrain vis-a-vis major counterparts in the Middle East and other noted economies.
    Keywords: Business competitiveness; Doing business; Business environment; Kingdom of Bahrain
    JEL: M00 N95
    Date: 2009–09

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