Middle East Economy
Since the 1800's, much of the economy was oriented towards agriculture and goods for foreign markets. Since the discovery of oil, petroleum has been the major fuel for the economy of the region, either in money from exports or labor from the poorer countries in the region. State-based control was instituted over much of the regions economy. The Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms and aid, largely due to contention with the United States over Israel.
Almost two thirds of the world's oil reserves, and a quarter of the world's natural gas reserves sit in the region, with the member states producing about a quarter of the world's petroleum. The oil industry dominates the economy structure, especially so in the countries surrounding the Persian Gulf. Although some countries, such as Egypt and Turkey have significant resources for a manufacturing industry, most such goods are imported, and most petroleum is exported as crude.
The agriculture sector is still heavy dependent on imports, with subsistence farming being widely practiced in the poorer regions. This is largely due to an increased population, most of which moved towards being far more of an urban population, heavily invested in industry rather then farming.