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2009 AEC- Dhows to planes trade Relation Between the Arabian Gulf and Africa and their Impact on Development


The relationship between the Arabian Gulf and the African continent is a long standing one.   While the contacts after the rise of Islam in the 7th Century are well documented there is evidence of contact between the regions prior to that period going back as early as the first century AD. While the size of the trade itself is impressive, more impressive are the long lasting effects of growth and development that came out of the trade‐ the growth and development of the Sudanic empires of West Africa and the city‐states of the East African coast.   Today, fueled not by the mineral riches of Africa but those of the Oil rich Arabian Gulf trade between the regions continues. Although this trade is no longer at the center of world trade as it once was, it is an important part of the trade of many of the African countries.  In this paper we will examine the recent history of trade between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council namely, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and African countries and its potential impact on industrialization.    We will briefly discuss the relationship between trade and industrialization and the degree to which this relationship has held in the post‐independence period of African countries.    This will be followed by an examination of the volume and trend in trade between Africa and the Gulf and a first estimation of how it has changed.     After establishing what the volume of trade is we examine what kind of trade occurs.  In other words we examine the sophistication of exports from both regions to each other in an attempt to uncover whether the trade of today has the ability not only to affect growth because of its size but also to impact the process of industrial transformation because of the kind of goods traded.    We will examine the sophistication of exports using the ten groups of exports created by Sanjaya Lall as well as the Lall‐ Weiss‐Zhang index of sophistication (Lall, 2000; Lall et al., 2006).    We will end the paper with some suggestions on the lessons that policy makers should take away from our exercise.

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