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Water Problems in the Middle East

When Americans think of the Middle East, they visualize rich oil fields and religious fanaticism. When Middle Eastern people think of their region, they ponder over the problems of water and of their Moslem faith in a developing world threatened by Western culture. Arabs today are suspicious of what they perceive as the inevitable destructive contributions of Western industrialized civilization: the breakdown of millenary traditions; the exploitation of their natural resources by power-hungry foreigners; the poisoning of their environment by urbanization and industrialization; the corruption of their faith by the infidels; the polluting or theft of their most precious resource: water. Of course, Jews and Christians and Turks and a plethora of peoples, through thousands of years, have mixed in this part of the world. Somehow, history has thrown together peoples of diverse origins, customs, religions, goals, and destinies, but they all share a primary concern: how to exploit water for their survival and growth. And there may not be enough of it to ensure the survival of all.

This limited survey of the literature covers what is commonly called the Middle East. By and large, geographical boundaries are well defined: "To the north by the Black Sea, the southernmost ridges of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea; to the west by the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Red Seas; and to the south by the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Less well defined boundaries are to the west, across the Libyan desert and to the northeast and east of Iran" (United Nations, 1982).

The outstanding characteristic of the Middle East is its aridity. "Were it not for the contribution of Atlantic water entering through the Straits of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean would shrink eventually to a number of isolated 'pools'. Evaporation from its surface reaches the astonishing figure of 114,400 cubic meters per second; to offset this loss only 4.9%...

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Water Problems in the Middle East. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:49, May 22, 2019, from