Tuesday, January 01, 2013


The development of the oil industry in the Middle East has led to immense wealth for the ruling class there. 'In just seven decades as a nation, Saudi Arabia has grown from an impoverished backwater of desert nomads to an economic powerhouse with an oil industry that brought in $300bn last year. Forbes magazine estimates King Abdullah's personal fortune at $18bn, making him the world's third-richest royal, behind the rulers of Thailand and Brunei.' (Guardian, 1 January) The report goes on to record that the Saudi government discloses little official data about its poorest citizens. But press reports and private estimates suggest that between 2 million and 4 million of the country's native Saudis live on less than about $530 a month – about $17 a day – considered the poverty line in Saudi Arabia. So we have up to a quarter of the population living in poverty and hunger while the owning clique luxuriate in obscene wealth. This is capitalism in action. RD

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