Return to Presentation Details

Middle East - Natural Resources

6th Grade Informational and Literature Reading Texts

The Middle East sits on the largest oil reserve in the world. It is estimated that the countries of the Middle East control approximately half of the entire oil reserves in the world. Along with the abundance of oil, large natural gas reserves give the region a wealth of the natural resources that are seen nowhere else in the world. World demand for oil has been growing year after year. Crude oil is refined down into many different products, as demand for these products has gone up; the countries that control the oil have become very wealthy.
The Middle East is not the most welcoming region of the world. Much of land is hot and dry. The area is characterized by large deserts, rugged mountains and plateaus. However, beneath this formidable exterior is a vast reserve of oil and natural gas. More than half the world's reserves of crude oil or petroleum are found under the lands of the Middle East. Worldwide demand for oil and natural gas remains high. These two factors have given countries of the Middle East a wealth not seen elsewhere in the world.
Most countries have become very dependent on fuels produced from crude oil to meet their energy demands. Many forms of transportation run on fuels refined from oil. Power plants burn oil to create electricity to power the homes and electronics we use daily. Oil is also used in many products such as medicines, plastics, cosmetics and other goods. As demand continues to grow the reserves will one day begin to shrink? Oil is a nonrenewable resource. There is a limited supply of it and it cannot be recreated. Once the supply is gone, we will have to turn our attention to renewable forms of energy to take its place.
Oil is not distributed equally throughout the world. It takes very special conditions for the earth to take plant and animal remains and change it into oil. Distribution of oil in the Middle East is uneven as well. Saudi Arabia is the region's largest country and has the most oil. On the other hand countries like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are much smaller in proportion to Saudi Arabia, but have almost have as much oil as their Middle Eastern neighbor. Other countries, like Bahrain and Syria, have some oil but it is far less than most of the region.
Oil has brought great wealth to the people and countries of the Middle East. Not all oil countries are the same and a country's oil wealth is not divided evenly among the people. Some are very, very rich while others are extremely poor.
The oil wealth of many Middle Eastern countries has impacted the people in positive ways. In general the money from oil production has improved the lives of many of the people. Life expectancy has increased and the infant mortality rate has fallen. Both factors can be attributed to countries using their wealth to improve the health care of the region. As seen in the changes in Dubai, both public and private wealth from oil has improved and expanded cities in the region.
Oil has not improved life for all people in the region. Oil has not ended poverty in the Middle East. Many countries, like Yemen, remain among the poorest countries in the world. A number of countries in the Middle East do not share the same amount of oil; in turn their oil wealth does not meet the needs of their poor population. Some countries have made a lot of money on oil but have not used that money to improve the lives of their people.
Many oil producing countries of the Middle East depend on oil sales as a major part of their country's economy. Due to this dependence, many countries have the goal of a steady oil supply. This allows countries to have a steady flow of money coming into their country.
To meet this goal, several countries have formed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC. Currently OPEC has 12 member countries; six of the members are Middle Eastern countries: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The other 6 non-Middle Eastern countries are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Libya, Nigeria, and Venezuela. These member countries want to keep oil pricing steady, not too high not too low. To do this they control the production of oil. If too much oil is pumped, there will be less competition for it and the price it sells for will be too low. If there is too little produced, there will be more competition between buyers, forcing pricing to rise too high.
Despite all this power over oil production, there are some things that limit what OPEC is able to control. First, OPEC cannot control all of the oil sales in the world. Member countries control less than half the oil that is exported around the world. The rest comes from various non-OPEC countries. Another factor is that members do not always act as a group. Some members act independently and refuse to follow the decisions that OPEC makes about how much oil to produce or who to sell to.
The world's dependence on oil has been increasing year after year. Countries become more dependent on oil as they develop economically. Simple economics shows that as more people demand a product like oil, the price will continue to rise. Oil is a nonrenewable resource, with more people demanding oil and oil products, the world has begun to look at new renewable energy resources. Examples include solar and wind energy. As oil demand stays high and resources run out, more and more people will have to begin using alternative forms of energy.