Is the Middle East the land of the future?

Foresight Special Issue - Call for Papers:
Is the Middle East the land of the future?
Guest Editor: Nnamdi O. Madichie, PhD
To complement previously published Foresight Special Issues on America the land of the future (Blackman, 2008); and more recently on Africa the land of the future (Adesida and Karuri-Sebina, 2011), this special issue seeks to establish as to what extent the debate could be extended to the Middle East (both Arab and non-Arab speaking countries). It was only recently (June 2011) that Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ (UN) Secretary-General, urged ministers from around the world to “act boldly” to meet the social and economic targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline. According to him, “The agreed deadline of 2015 is fast approaching. We must live up to the promises we made at the turn of the millennium.” Stressing on the urgency for call to arms, he adds that “we do not have a moment to lose. We need to make greater strides towards balanced and sustainable development. To do this we need to act boldly and urgently by investing the resources we need to protect the gains we have made so far.”
This Special Issue calls on papers that debate achievements on the eight pillars of the MDGs:
1. Eradication of extreme poverty;
2. Universal Education;
3. Gender equality;
4. Child Health;
5. Maternal Health;
6. Combat HIV/ AIDS;
7. Environmental Sustainability; and
8. Global Partnership for Development
Important themes that can be pulled out of the MDGs include attributes such as poverty (goal #1), education (goal #2), gender equality (goal #3), health (goals #4, 5 and 6), sustainability (goal #7) and global partnerships (goal #8). Starting with the first on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, it is on record that West Asia (where the Middle East is categorised under) is amongst the few regions not expected to achieve the MDG target by 2015. On the third goal, Gender Equality, there is also an admission that “globally only one quarter of senior officials or managers in the [Middle East] are women, with only about 10% holding top-level positions.” In terms of the seventh goal on environmental sustainability, the diversification into alternative energy sources for the oil-rich economies of the Middle East is something worthy of investigation in Foresight. Indeed as Palmer (2011) recently reported, “there’s no escaping it – fresh water is a scarce commodity in this part of the world. The Middle East and North Africa region is home to 6.3 per cent of the world’s population, but just 1.4 per cent of the world’s renewable fresh water. Faced with an ever-steepening struggle to meet burgeoning demand in rapidly expanding region, water-stressed states are turning to innovative methods to quench their thirst.”
In addition to tackling the water shortage problem, the clamour for alternative energy by a fossil fuel/ hydrocarbon endowed countries. A recent notable example is the Masdar City project on renewal energy where the UAE was only recently “confirmed as the permanent headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the first time a major international organisation has been based in an Arab country” (see Attwood, 2011). Regarding the final MDG on Global partnerships, the presence of the likes of General Electric, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Paris Sorbonne amongst others, are suggestive of the drive towards fostering international reckoning in the region. Not to mention the partnership between the UAE and Spain at the recent (4 October 2011) inauguration of the Torresol Energy’s Gemasolar (CSP) plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Sevilla, southern Spain. The significance of such international cooperation were also acknowledged at the UN General assembly, “act cooperatively and think creatively” about sustainable development and global prosperity as the world’s population hits the 7-billion mark before the end of 2011.
As the Middle East strives to become a regional hub for renewable energy coinciding with the mounting concerns over global warming and exploding urban populations (coupled with the ever growing list challenges including global warming; waning of natural resources; in the face of population explosions; increasing energy demand; rising energy prices; and the unequal distribution of energy sources), the race to design and build the model ‘green city of the future’ is on full throttle (Vella, 2008; Madichie, 2011a). Indeed with the plethora of business clusters in the region from the education cities, health cities and women foundations to the sustainable cities (see Madichie, 2011b) – to what extent is the Middle East poised to be the champion of the next decade? What are the challenges and how can these be addressed?
The aim of this special issue goes beyond seeking answers to some of these questions, but also actualizes the theme of the UN General Assembly annual debate, “time to turn talk into action.” At the most recent debate (27 September 2011), Nassir Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly, pointed out that it is time to focus on tackling the range of issues from climate change and sustainable development to the reform of the UN. According to him, “coming together is only the start; working together will get us to the end.” That end is only less than four years away. To what extent is the Middle East prepared for an evaluation of readiness?
However, while the UN’s newest member, South Sudan was making its debut appearance, a conspicuously absent member country was Saudi Arabia in what was aptly described as, “without question […] an historic and unforgettable debate.” Perhaps not unconnected to this salient absence, was the recent renewed call by Saudi businesswomen for all government departments to scrap the requirement for a male legal representative in processing paperwork that stifles business creation, growth and development (see Hawari, 2011). Overall there has been a remarkable paradigm shift in the “…energy equation [from fossil fuels] to solar power [where] one third of new and old nuclear capacity will be replaced globally by renewable plants with an overall capacity of 500 Gigawatt” (see Fotuhi, 2011). From Total’s (the oil giant) recent majority-stake acquisition of SunPower at a cost of a $1.4billion, through Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement of its plans to install some 18,000MW of solar power over the next 20 years (Fotuhi, 2011; Palmer, 2011); to the Abu Dhabi (UAE) government’s announcement of its own plans to generate at least 7% of the power it uses from renewable sources by 2020.
The Call for Papers
For the Special Issue of foresight on the theme “Is the Middle East the land of the future?” invited papers are expected to address the attainment of the aforementioned MDG targets. Submissions that draw upon practice and concrete experience are particularly encouraged. The main idea of the special issue is to consider how key MDG targets may or may not be on course in the context of the Middle East, as well as to what strategies educators, policymakers and others should adopt to ensure that the region is not left behind. In essence this call for papers presents a platform for business and management researchers to share their opinions and analysis concerning the future outlook of the Middle East in the global business environment.
Submissions may draw upon existing foresight studies and other types of futures research. The intention being to appeal to as wide a base of researchers and practitioners as possible, reflecting the importance of improving understanding of the issues posed by challenges in the social, economic, political and technological environment of the region.
The Special issue will include a set of research / conceptual papers on the specified theme – is the Middle East the Land of the Future? A pre-application process towards full submissions will be undertaken (i.e. submission of abstracts for approval) for efficiency. Possible topics for essays and papers include, but are not limited to:
- Business clusters (health and education) and economic development
- Gender and Entrepreneurship
- ICT for development (including eGovernment versus eGovernance debates)
- International partnerships and foreign investment
- Policy support of sustainability and other social goals
- Public-private partnerships
- State versus private-sector led development
- Youth, sports and culture as future growth drivers
Important dates
Submission of Abstracts: 30 November 2011
Notification of successful authors: 30 December 2011
Final date for submission of manuscripts: 27 February 2012
Review, comments & notifications to authors: 6 April 2012
Final papers due: 16 July 2012
Instructions for submissions
Abstract submission: Foresight Journal Special Issue on “Is the Middle East the land of the future?”
Guidance on preparation of abstracts is available at:
Abstract: Not more than 300 words please
Topic/Keywords: Select keywords carefully, making sure that they match the theme of the Special Issue
Title: Title of proposed paper
Type: Conceptual Paper, Viewpoint, Research Paper
Author(s): Full names, titles, and primary institutional affiliation (if any) of all authors. Lead author first in bold.
Address: Contact details for lead author
Country: Lead author’s first in bold
Telephone: Include country code
Fax: Include country code
Mobile: Include country code
E-mail: Include alternate e-mail if necessary
Abstract Submissions to
Guest Editor:
Nnamdi O. Madichie, PhD
Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Sharjah, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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By 30 November 2011
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