Economy of Middle East


The Iraq war destroyed large parts of the country and forced 3 million people to flee. Armed battles are still going on in the country. At the same time, Iraq has entered a more peaceful period and the economy is growing. Labor laws emphasize trade union rights, but the trade union movement is weak.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 437 000 km²

Capital: Baghdad

Language: Most speak Arabic, other languages ​​are Kurdish, Assyrian and Armenian

Labor market and economy:

Iraq’s most important industries are oil extraction and refining. At the same time, there are sectors with relatively few jobs. Other jobs are in the public sector and in smaller industries. Another major industry is the private security industry. The informal sector is extensive, especially in the service industries, transport and agriculture.

In total, the workforce comprises about 8.5 million people. The employment rate is just over 40 percent. Compared to other countries, the Iraqi workforce is remarkably young, 56 percent are currently under 24 years of age. As a result of the economic recovery, unemployment has fallen to about 15 percent, a decade ago it was twice as high. The workforce is also relatively well educated. Most have at least a 10-year school education.


In 1967, Israel occupied the Sinai, the Golan, the West Bank and Gaza. East Jerusalem was annexed. The 1993 peace agreement stipulated that Israeli troops would be withdrawn. In 1994, Israel began construction of a wall around Gaza, supplemented in 2002 with a wall encircling the West Bank. Workers in the West Bank and Gaza have joined forces in a joint trade union organization.


Country Facts

State condition: The West Bank and Gaza have some autonomy, but Israel does not recognize the Palestinian state

Surface: West Bank 5860 km2, Gaza 360 km2

Capital: The Palestinian Authority considers East Jerusalem to be the capital, but in practice Ramallah serves as the capital of the West Bank and Gaza City as the capital of Gaza.

Language: Arabic, English and Hebrew

Labor market and economy:

Poverty in the West Bank and Gaza is palpable and unemployment is high. This in turn has helped to strengthen social divisions and political instability. The UN agency ILO describes the situation as “desperate” and emphasizes that a direct cause of poverty is the wall built by Israel to control the occupied territories.


Jordan is a Western-oriented monarchy and a key member of the Arab League. The country has a parliament with two chambers, but the king has a far-reaching power and can veto decisions. There are many Palestinian refugees in Jordan. In recent years, additional refugees have come from Syria. The trade union movement is weak.


Country Facts

State condition: Kingdoms

Surface: 88 802 km2

Capital: Amman

Language: Arabic

Labor market and economy:

According to COUNTRYAAH, Jordan’s economy is among the smallest in the Middle East. There is a shortage of natural resources including water, which has made Jordan dependent on financial support from outside. Other challenges are widespread poverty, high unemployment and government debt. King Abdallah has spearheaded a series of economic reforms, including the privatization of several state-owned enterprises. Jordan is dependent on importing energy, mainly natural gas. Agriculture is the country’s most important industry, important products are citrus fruits and tomatoes. The country also has textile and clothing industries as well as a growing tourism industry. The labor market is segregated and the informal sector is large. In recent years, large-scale refugee immigration from Syria has posed a major economic challenge.


Kuwait is an oil-rich state on the Arabian Peninsula with borders to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The country’s only trade union organization is tightly controlled by the state.


Country Facts

State condition: Emirate

Surface: 17,818 km2

Capital: Kuwait City

Language: Arabic

Labor market and economy:

Kuwait’s by far the most important source of income is oil. The country has 10 percent of the world’s oil reserve. In addition, there is a certain manufacturing industry, but it also consists mainly of oil-related products. The widespread desert means that agriculture is limited. Far more than men for income through paid work. In Kuwait, there are also around 250,000 migrant workers, mainly in the construction sector and the service industries. Many migrant workers also work as domestic workers.


There is peace in Lebanon, which should create confidence in the future and promote economic growth. At the same time, there is high unemployment and large refugee camps, not least because many have fled Syria. The trade union movement is divided and religiously divided.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 10,400 km2

Capital: Beirut

Language: Arabic is the official language, in addition Armenian is spoken in several languages

Labor market and economy:

Lebanon’s economy was severely damaged by the long civil war. Infrastructure was shattered, foreign companies disappeared and tourism was swept away. If the current stability in the country continues, however, an upturn in the economy is expected. Through a large international aid program, the country will be rebuilt. Foreign companies have already shown increased interest in investing in Lebanon.


Oman is a sparsely populated desert country on the Arabian Peninsula. Political rights are severely curtailed, even though the ruling sultan has opened up to both political elections and trade unions. The extensive supply of oil has made the country rich.


Country Facts

State condition: Monarchy

Surface: 309,500 km2

Capital: Muscat

Language: Arabic, in addition baluchi, hindi etc.

Labor market and economy:

Oman’s economy has developed rapidly and the most important export product is oil. Oman also exports fruits, vegetables and dates. Over the past decade, tourism in the country has increased. Several Swedish travel companies arrange charter trips to Oman.