An art installation made of discarded metal oil barrels, February 15, 2015.
Tomas Bravo

Five years ago, the Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates shared a fiscal surplus of some $600 billion; by 2020, the International Monetary Fund predicts that they will have accumulated a combined deficit of $700 billion. Sustained low oil prices could make things even worse. This bad news is yet one more reminder of resource-rich Arab states’ need to build vibrant, diversified economies that can withstand the effects of oil price shocks.

Although Arab governments have long recognized the need to shift away from an excessive dependence on hydrocarbons, they have had little success in

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