Middle East unveiled

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The Middle East (or, formerly more common, the Near East) is a region that encompasses south–western Asia and Egypt. The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, and throughout its history, the Middle East has been a major centre of world affairs. The Middle East is also the historical origin of three of the world's major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Middle East generally has an arid and hot climate, with several major rivers providing for irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas. Many countries located around the Persian Gulf have large quantities of crude oil. Although the Middle East is often considered a strategically, politically, culturally and religiously sensitive region, it is increasingly being utilised as a host for major events. The attention of many infrastructure and facilities companies is turning towards the Gulf States, in particular to countries like Qatar whose economies continue to grow at a significant pace. Governments across the region are embarking on ambitious investment programmes in order to diversify their economies and also to meet the aspirations of their growing populations. Several companies in the events space have set up offices in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 2006 Doha Asian Games put the Middle East region on the map with its host country Qatar now looking to capitalise on its success by securing the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Its neighbour, the UAE, is currently carrying out a feasibility study into hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. With South Africa having been awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and Brazil securing the 2014 version in addition to the 2016 Olympic Games, the Middle East is presenting itself as a region that should be allowed to step up to the challenge and host these events for the first time. The main countries in the Middle East of interest to the major events industry are:QatarRevenue flowing from the world's third largest natural gas reserve is funding major infrastructure and economic diversification projects. Despite the current global economic climate, Qatar achieved double–digit growth in 2009. Numerous opportunities exist across the economy, particularly in:ConstructionOil and gasTransport & LogisticsEducationFinancial and legal servicesICTSport and Leisure andHealthcareWhilst oil and gas will probably remain the backbone of Qatar's economy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate the private sector and develop a 'knowledge economy'. In 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology Park to attract and serve technology–based companies and entrepreneurs, from overseas and within Qatar. Qatar also established Education City, which consists of international colleges. For the 15th Asian Games in Doha, it established Doha Sports City, consisting of Khalifa stadium, the Aspire Sports Academy, aquatic centres, exhibition centres and many other sports related buildings and centres. Qatar also plans to build an 'entertainment city' in the future. Qatar aims to become a role model for economic and social transformation in the region. Large scale investment in all social and economic sectors will also lead to the development of a strong financial market. United Arab EmiratesIn 2009, UAE's GDP, as measured by purchasing power parity, stood at $200. 4bn. The GDP per capita is currently the 14th in the world and 3rd in the Middle East, after Qatar and Kuwait as measured by the CIA World Factbook, or the 17th in the world as measured by the International Monetary Fund. UAE's economy, particularly that of Dubai, was badly hit by the financial crisis of 2007–10. In 2009, the country's economy shrank by 4%, but at the time of writing, was considered to be emerging from the crisis. The real picture is that the UAE is still a striving region in terms of an emerging country. With markets being developed and oil production continuing despite some of the lowest prices in the last five years, the overall position of the region seems promising in the long term. Petroleum and natural gas exports play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. A massive construction boom, an expanding manufacturing base, and a thriving services sector are helping the UAE diversify its economy. Nationwide, there is currently $350bn worth of active or recently finished construction projects. Such projects include the Burj Khalifa, which is the world's tallest building, Dubai World Central International Airport which, when completed, will be the most expensive airport ever built, and the three Palm Islands, the largest artificial islands in the world. Other projects include the Dubai Mall which is the world's largest shopping mall, and a man–made archipelago called The World which sought to increase Dubai's rapidly growing tourism industry. Also in the entertainment sector is the construction of Dubailand, which is expected to be twice the size of Disney World, and of Dubai Sports City which will not only provide homes for local sports teams but may be part of future Olympic bids. BahrainBahrain has a small and reasonably prosperous economy with less dependence on oil than most Gulf states. Strategically located in the Gulf with a 25 km causeway connection to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC, Bahrain is seen as a gateway to the Gulf, a market of over 100m people. A 40 km causeway to Qatar is scheduled for completion by 2013. Bahrain's diversity and openness continue to present opportunities for exporters. It has the most diversified economy in the Gulf. A recognised global centre for Islamic finance in particular, financial services contribute approximately 25% of GDP. Manufacturing and the oil and gas industry both contribute around 15% of GDP. A part of Bahrain's economic policy is a programme of privatisation, which includes communications, transport, electricity and water, the ports and airport services. OmanConsistently high oil prices over mean that Oman's economy, like the rest of the Gulf, is very strong and continues to grow year on year. Record budget surpluses are adding impetus to Oman's ongoing infrastructure and industrial development programme. Oil and gas exports provide the backbone of Oman's economy but production of oil is falling. A key strand of current economic policy, therefore, is to gradually decrease the country's reliance on oil income through downstream oil industry development (petrochemicals/metals), port development, IT start–ups, fisheries, and a modern and expanded tourism industry. The country relies on oil for most its revenue, and defence accounts for one third of its expenditure. Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia (officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is the largest Arab country in the Middle East. It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. The Arabian Gulf lies to the northeast and the Red Sea to its west. It has an estimated population of 28m, and its size is approximately 2, 149, 690 sq km. Saudi Arabia's fast–growing economy is creating opportunities for both exporters and investors. These are further boosted by moves to diversify the economy away from dependence on oil and gas; by economic reform programmes and market liberalisation; and by an emerging and growing private sector. To diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia launched a new city on the western coast with investments exceeding $26. 6bn. The city, which is named 'King Abdullah Economic City' ('KAEC'), is being built near al–Rabegh industrial city north of Jeddah. The new city, where construction work started in December 2005, includes a port which is the largest port of the kingdom. Extending along a coastline of 35 km, the city, when finished, will also include petrochemical, pharmaceutical, tourism, finance and education and research areas. At the time of writing, KAEC was coming to life with a large number of companies and organisations already having started carrying out their daily operations from KAEC, with the first wave of residents settling down in the city, becoming the core of KAEC's future communities. Saudi Arabia officially became a World Trade Organisation member in December 2005.

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