Sunday, October 28, 2007

Introduction

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are located in the Arabian Peninsula along the Persian Gulf. The citizens of these states are mostly Muslims and ethnic Arabs. Though the ruling elites often inherit their titles and authority, Islamic law is the basis of governance. These countries also share a vital natural resource—oil.

 

Although these countries have enjoyed a long and rich history, their economies greatly changed with the discovery of oil. Beginning in the mid 20h century, these Gulf coast states witnessed a rise in foreign investment and income per capita. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar became welfare states and provided free social services, such as health care and education. However, oil is a non-renewable resource and cannot last forever. These states have realized this situation and have begun to diversify their economies and to address domestic needs and global changes.

 

A state can diversify and improve its economy by investing in profitable sectors and training its people to become highly skilled and globally competitive. In a world economy that relies more on knowledge and information, it is becoming essential for a country to provide its citizens with good higher educational institutions. Moreover, a government should also anticipate future needs and initiate linkages between the academe, the public and private sectors.

 

According to the World Bank, an indicator of good governance is the effectiveness of the government’s public services, which include education for its citizens. We chose to examine the government support in the public tertiary education in the belief that it reflects one aspect of the quality of life of the people. Strong government support in the educational system greatly contributes to the welfare of society as well as in the development of the state.

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