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Copyright (c) 2005 Cornell International Law Journal
Cornell International Law Journal

ARTICLE: Doing Business in the Middle East: A Primer for U.S. Companies


38 Cornell Int'l L.J. 413


John H. Donboli+ & Farnaz Kashefi++



The Middle East is situated in a strategic global position featuring many dynamic trade and investment opportunities. The region is primarily known as one of the world's largest oil and natural gas reserves, yet governments are attempting to reduce their economic dependency on oil revenues by instituting policies intended to attract foreign investment. 1 As countries in the region attempt to transform their oil-based economies into information and service-based economies, they must reach out to world partners to encourage investment. 2 Essentially, the conglomeration of factors such as a regional surge of economic diversification, privatization of traditionally state-owned business, population growth, regional integration efforts, and reconstruction efforts in Iraq are major sources of potential economic opportunity in the Middle East.

Middle-Eastern leaders recognize that they must diversify their economies away from a nearly complete dependence on oil and state-sponsored subsidies. As a result, recent legislation in many Middle Eastern countries aims to privatize traditionally state-owned businesses and attract foreign direct investments. 3 The World Bank estimates the need for nearly $ 3.1 billion a year in private investments to realize privatization efforts and infrastructure projects in the Middle East. 4

Another factor that gives rise to a demand for foreign investments has been the steady population growth in the region. Thirty-five percent of the population is below the age of fifteen, and the creation of jobs in the private sector has consistently expanded the labor force. 5 The marriage of Arab youth and Western pop culture through ...
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