The dramatic escalation in the price of oil over the past seven years has allowed the Middle East and the Gulf states in particular to reap an incredible windfall. Early indications suggest that the region may be optimising these rewards with greater prudence than during past oil booms, by reducing debt, increasing savings and launching meaningful economic reforms.
Still, it is hardly certain that mounting revenues will enable the region to successfully overcome the political and economic vulnerabilities inherent in oil-led development. The oil boom has neither saved nor doomed the Middle East, but rather opened new possibilities and heightened existing problems. International interest in ensuring the free flow of energy resources should prompt serious efforts by Washington and other capitals to enhance regional integration, encourage meaningful reform and promote long-term cooperation in cultivating a more stable, prosperous and sustainable future for the Middle East.