GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT STUDIES
Copyright © 2004 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Three Winter 2003-Spring 2004 Numbers 3-4.
GLOBALIZATION, RELIGION AND THE STATE IN THE MIDDLE EAST: THE CURRENT CRISIS IN
James L. Gelvin
Department of History
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Published online: February 10, 2017
In 2002, the United Nations Development Program published the first United Nations Arab Human Development Report to great fanfare. The report cited three problems that, it claimed, Arab Middle Eastern societies would have to overcome to catch up with their more successful counterparts in Europe, North America, and East Asia: a lack of freedom, a lack of women’s empowerment, and a “knowledge deficit.” The report was not the first publication to indicate that the Middle East lagged in these areas, and it would hardly have received the “stop the presses” coverage it did but for one distinctive characteristic: the report did not come from a neo-conservative think tank. This time it fell to Arab intellectuals to render a harsh judgment, and the airing of dirty laundry from native informants made its publication a newsworthy event.