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The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is launching a new media instrument—the MEMRI Economic Blog.

As such, two questions may come readily to one's mind: Why an economic blog? And why launch one now?

There are gaps—some would say large gaps—in the Western media of coverage of economic news and development in the Middle East. For example, while the Islamic banking sector rapidly grows, elevating terminology like sukuk [Islamic bonds] and murabaha [profit sharing in lieu of interest which is prohibited by Islam] to world recognition, much of this phenomenon is overshadowed by the more dramatic political events in the region. Middle Eastern economic news is often relegated to secondary, if not marginal, coverage, and the MEMRI Economic Blog will strive to compensate for this fact.

The Middle East has been on everyone's radar screen for a very long time, and often for the wrong reasons. For most readers of the Western press, the Middle East is perceived as an arena of conflicts, wars, religious extremism and intrigues.

But there is another Middle East emerging—particularly among some of the small, oil-rich Gulf countries. With unprecedented cash flow, these countries are racing to catch the train of globalization. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar epitomize this change; their progress so far is breathtaking. For most Middle Eastern economists, they are subjects of grudging admiration, and a model for emulation.

Even among the less fortunate countries in terms of natural resources—Jordan and Morocco, for example—there is a palpable shift from a state-controlled national economy to a market-driven economy. These countries seek foreign direct investments wherever possible. Entrepreneurial spirit is on the rise. Though these countries still face many obstacles in catching up with the advanced economies of the West, their progress thus far gives observers a measure of confidence about the general direction of their future.

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