In This Review

Arab Economies in the Twenty-first Century
Arab Economies in the Twenty-first Century
By Paul Rivlin
Cambridge University Press, 2009, 328 pp
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Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries
Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries
By The UN Development Program
, 2009, 264 pp
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"Waking From Its Sleep: A Special Report on the Arab World"
"Waking From Its Sleep: A Special Report on the Arab World"
By
The Economist, 2009, 14 pp
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These three readings offer an in-depth study of the 22 countries and 350 million people that make up the Arab world. All implicitly pose the interlinked questions of why the Arab world has not achieved as much progress as comparable areas of the world and what needs to be done if it is to "wake from its sleep." Rivlin's early chapters provide an economist's view of the region that brings in geography, demography, and "the constraints of history." Then come separate chapters treating individual cases.

The 2009 Arab Human Development Report, the fifth since the inaugural report in 2002, is, like the previous ones, the work of Arab specialists, not outsiders. Organized around the theme of human security (and thus more focused on the individual than the state), it covers such diverse subjects as health and nutrition, women's rights, military occupation (in Iraq, Palestine, and Somalia), and that hearty perennial, the despotic Arab state. The report is a felicitous combination of text, charts, graphs, and sidebars. "Waking From Its Sleep," for its part, is a fine short statement about the region's prospects for those with no time for more. But perusing all three readings has its rewards.