Oil reserves are on the way down. World is clamouring for aternative resources for energy. It can be predicted that Oil & Gas, as we know it, may not remain the prime choice in, say, the next 100 years for energy. This will be a BIG challenge to the world – the West most – to get to that level. It is possible and requires coordination in many areas but the convergence in next 100 years is a strongly plausible!
The wealth of oil has provided a false sense of security to the nations who have most of it – the Middle East and Latin American. These countries now have socialist or theocratic autocrats or virtual (“democratically elected”) dictators! They will rule the roost when the prices go up in the medium term time frame for next 50-60 years. The profits and wealth generation opportunities will abound. When such a scenario unfolds the rulers became more cavalier and so more vain. This obviates any thought of institution-building or creation of long term human and education infrastructure.
So, as the price of Oil goes up – these countries will find themselves ruled by despots with short term vision. The casualties will be infrastructure – human and physical, and creativity. This neglect will be fueled by the false security that Oil brings.
The final unfolding of the Oil drama by the end of next 100 years will bring in unexpected scenario where former wealth merchants will find themselves as paupers. A multitude of “Bahadur Shah Zafars” will be all over the place. This situation will be most telling in the religion landscape for Islam. Suddenly, it will find itself in a void – that will, if anything, would have become irretrievable. Consider these figures today:
“24 per cent of the world’s Muslim population earned less than a dollar a day and an average of 39 per cent lived below the poverty line. While Muslim countries possess 70 per cent of the world’s energy resources and 40 per cent of the raw material, their share in the global trade is a measly six to seven per cent.” (source: Dawn)
The figures on education are even poorer. Thomas Friedman reported Pervez Hoodboy – Pakistani columnist – as saying that according to Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, Pakistanis have succeeded in registering only eight patents internationally in 57 years! The unemployment rate in Middle East and North Africa is the HIGHEST in the world – 13.2% – more than even Sub-Saharan Africa!
What does this say about future of Islam in the absence of Oil? I am afraid very bleak. The reason is simple – whether we like it or not, there is a tussle on between Islam and Christianity to “rope” in as many converts as possible. That is one of the reason why Islam is the “fastest growing” religion in the world (as if Religion of population was a market share!). Lots of resources are expended in this endeavour by both, the Churches and the Islamic world.
Currently, it makes a lot of sense (as also a matter of strength) to align with the rich regions of Middle east – but will this appeal be there once that area turns 180 degree in economics? Isn’t it true that the “fortunes” of Islam are inextricably linked to those of Middle East? Would it be possible for a pauper Middle East to create the brouhaha over Danish cartoons or insults to the Prophet?
I predict a war – an all out one – as the Oil reserves start coming to an end or when it becomes abundantly clear that Middle East – and so Islam’s – influence is on its way down.
However, if I was a Muslim thought leader, I would be VERY worried. And I would be looking for ways to bring out Islamic world of the reactionary way to religion where insults are taken so severly and instead look at ways to boost education and gender equality. If the human capital remains as under-developed as it is currently, the world for Muslim coming generations are in peril!
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