The purpose of this paper is to share with the International Committee some of the shifts in style and strategy that are taking place in the Middle East program of the Foundation. These shifts are partly in response to reduced budgets, but they also reflect changing conditions in the region and new perceptions of the nature of the development process by our staff and the people with whom they work.    


Azrak, Jordan 1973

Political and economic events from the Arab Middle East are prominently reported, but it is well to keep in mind a few distributional factors when considering the Foundation's program there. The region is relatively united by language and religions, but divided by:  

-- per capita income. Three of the world's 25 neediest countries, Yemen, South Yemen, and the Sudan, neighbor the world's most wealthy;  

- - human resources. Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan have relatively abundant trained manpower, but little mineral wealth, whereas the opposite is true of the oil states;  

-- political systems and ideologies. Left to right, feudal to socialist, tribal to peasant-based systems, all exist under the Arab tent.  

In this paper we are departing from the Foundation's usual categories of agriculture, population, education, etc., in order to consider the development process from another angle. One can view development as the process of change in the way people make their living, the way they organize themselves in a society, the way family members relate to one another, and the way individuals view the world. These four dimensions of modernization--the technological, the structural, the familial and the individual -- replace the traditional categories as the framework for the discussion. 

Typically, foreign aid programs concern themselves almost exclusively with the second dimension -- the structural. The technology is borrowed, or imported, and the domain of family relationships and individual values and beliefs is thought to be out of bounds. We are re-examining our assumptions concerning the transference of technology and the importance of individual and family change, but in this paper we have selected illustrative program activities in only two of the areas.  

We have chosen to describe some of the recent changes in our approach to work in the structural area, particularly in management and the social sciences, and to outline the explorations we are making in the area of individual modernization. Three additional aspects of our program are also discussed: our work in the oil-producing states of the Peninsula, our relationship to other sources of funds, and our current use of staff.  

The principal omission from the paper is a thorough discussion of the Arid Lands Agricultural Development program (ALAD), which would warrant a substantial portion of any full description of our work in the Middle East. It is our largest project in terms of staff and budget and it is doing important work in the often-neglected area of the adaptation of technology to the agroclimatic conditions of the region. ALAD does not receive its due in this discussion because it is soon scheduled to become the nucleus of a new international agricultural research center and part of the Consultative Group system. This successful pattern of development work is already very familiar to the Committee.  

Modernization of Structures and Systems  

To distinguish between past and current strategies for the modernization of structures and systems of society, it may be helpful to outline first the style of this work that characterized the Foundation's program until recently:  

- Institution-building. This familiar pattern of work generally involved grants for equipment and operating expenses, coupled with expatriate technical assistance and scholarships for training future staff of the institutions abroad. Substantial efforts were made to develop institutes of public administration in several countries, university- based management programs at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the American University in Cairo (AUC), faculties of agriculture, science and economics in Syria and Jordan, a science education center at AUB, and a language teaching center at AUC. Overseas scholarships averaged $300,000 a year in support of these projects.  

- Direct transfer of administrative techniques. The largest program of this type was an eight-year, one-hundred man-year administrative reform project in Saudi Arabia, which the Saudis mostly financed. Other examples are classification and pay projects in Lebanon and Jordan and a tax administration project in Lebanon.  

- Strengthening disciplinary competence. Post-doctoral research competence was bolstered through a regional social science awards program and grants in the general field of population to AUC and AUB. 

The current strategy, which has emerged gradually over the past three or four years, is based on a different perception of development priorities in the Arab world. A number of modern institutions which we and others have helped build are able to function without additional outside support, and a substantial core of well-trained Arabs can be found in most of the vital disciplines. Many of these institutions and individuals are not, however, as useful to Arab society as they were intended to be or as they would like to be. They remain in a real sense alien from Arab society even after they have ceased to be dependent on foreign funds or personnel. We now see our task in the social sciences and management fields as one of relating modern skills to Arab problems, rather than one of creating more skills and new institutions. 

The symptoms of this alienation are widespread. Most Arab universities in the more populous and relatively advanced parts of the Arab world are forced by student numbers to be primarily teaching institutions. Salaries are low and research little rewarded, so scholars supplement income by moonlighting. There is also little demand for research on the part of policy-makers, who see scant relevance to their work in what scholars typically write. They are generally right, because scholars trained abroad must combine creativity with solid data collection to make their knowledge useful to Arab society. 

The lack of demand for research is compounded by the absence of senior research leadership. Older scholars have either lost their research competence through disuse or have emigrated to institutions in which their skills are more valued, such as western universities, U.N. agencies or the wealthy governments of the Peninsula. 

This gloomy picture of the research environment is not unlike the situation in the administrative field. The transfer of management techniques implies a transfer of values, not always understood at the time a project is initiated, and these values are sometimes unacceptable when they become manifest. Classification and pay systems, for example, work poorly in conditions where appointments and promotions are a vital and legitimate element in the distribution of political rewards. Similarly, the machinery of tax administration can be much improved through training and reorganization, but it cannot be effectively deployed unless the principle of equality under the law is accepted. Training programs for middle level management sometimes succeed in improving the skills and perceptions of their trainees, but it is then discovered that the trainees become frustrated and discouraged when they return to the institutions from which they have been sent. 

The above paragraphs may be somewhat overdrawn, but they illustrate the general phenomena to which our program seeks to respond, namely that the substantial pool of well-trained Arab intellectual manpower is, for institutional and cultural reasons, inadequately addressing the problems of modernizing Arab society.  

Our first assumption is that for modern education, the social sciences, and management skills to become part of Arab culture, their usefulness must be demonstrated in relation to specific Arab problems. Only then will the network of institutional incentives evolve which will enable modern skills to be rewarded appropriately and used effectively. We recognize that the question is not simply to awaken policy-makers and administrators to the wonders of the social sciences and modern management; a process of adaptation of these intellectual tools is also required.  

The principal tactics used in this connection are the following:  

1. Broaden the use of the institutions we have helped to build. 

Our most successful institution-building efforts were in the field of education. We are seeking to enhance the value of the Science and Mathematics Education Center (SDAEC) at AUB and the English Language Institute (ELI) at AUC by financing technical assistance contracts that enable them to advise governments in the region on curriculum revision, textbook production, and teacher training, in their respective fields. This tends to broaden the outlook of the scholars working in these centers and at the same time to provide competent Arabic-speaking advisory assistance to the ministries of education in Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan, and to the University of Aleppo, where SMEC and ELI have worked. The Institute of Statistical Studies and Research at Cairo University is also contributing computer time and analytical skills to environmental research projects in Egypt.  

2. Focused research grants with close staff participation.  

Instead of seeking to strengthen scholarship per se, we have made a number of research awards carefully focused on specific problems. Often, Foundation staff members or consultants provide senior research leadership by directly engaging in research design and sometimes by participating in the research itself. Examples include: 

- Legal research. Jeswald Salacuse led seminars on law and development in Lebanon and Egypt, which led to research projects on municipal law and the social effects of the land reform law. In the Sudan, Salacuse is participating in research into customary law, the current phase of a law project that began with Foundation support in 1960.  

- In Jordan, three economic research projects have been designed by staff of the Royal Scientific Society and the University of Jordan, with the active participation of Jared Hazleton and Carl Gotsch. 

- Agricultural economics research projects are underway or under discussion at the University of Khartoum, the Jordan Valley Commission, the University of Alexandria, the American University of Beirut, and the Institute of National Planning in Egypt. Carl Gotsch is much involved in all cases.  

- Other initiatives were responsible for environmental research projects on the Egyptian coastal desert ecosystem and the quality of the Nile, but Foundation staff and consultants played a major role in the final research design, and Wayne Willey is playing an active professional role in the execution of the projects.  

Wherever possible, we seek to work not only with the researcher but  with the logical user of the research results. In Lebanon, for example, government agencies and scientists from the various universities were invited to participate in the design of an environmental program before the Foundation shared in its financing through the National Council for Scientific Research. In Egypt, by working directly with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Planning we hope to create a climate receptive to the results of research on the economics of the irrigated farming systems.  

3. Management programs related to product or service.  

Management has in a real sense become a dimension of other projects or programs in which the Foundation is involved, rather than a separate activity. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the Foundation's work with the Ministry of Education involves improving management information systems of the Ministry, and at the same time strengthening the educational content of the Ministry’s work by improving its access to outside expertise. In Egypt, an essential element of the foreign investment program is the organizational work of the foreign investment secretariat undertaken by Delwin Roy and a local consultant. The economic analysis and advice contributed by Henry Bruton and Robert Armstrong would be of little use if the organization charged with attracting and handling foreign investment was incapable of the task.  

4. Mapping regional research frontiers and enhancing professionalism through regional conferences and workshops.  

Communications among social scientists in the Arab world have been so haphazard that there is little sense of priority among the many issues the social sciences could be employed to examine. In 1974, with Foundation support, a major conference in Alexandria of regional sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists began to examine questions of regional significance. Workshops on specific problems and topics are planned, and a social science association is in the process of being formed. In agricultural economics, a month-long workshop on research techniques for dealing with the economics of irrigated farming systems will be sponsored by the Foundation at AUB next summer. This type of activity over time will, it is hoped, help to establish standards for Arab social science research and foster a sense of professionalism among participants.

5. Shifts in focus on population.  

Population growth is an immediate threat to Egyptian society, and a cloud on the horizon elsewhere. Previous work in Egypt in reproductive biological research and in support of the national population program is proceeding at reduced levels, but new attention is being devoted to fertility motivation. Ruminations on motivation have led to an enhanced appreciation of the importance of changing individual attitudes and beliefs in the modernization process.  

Individual Modernization  

When one thinks of development in terms of the changes in individual behavior which modern life demands, attitudes, values and beliefs come into focus as key variables. Affected are underlying elements of human personality such as time perspective, the ability to defer gratification and thus to plan and save, the sense of individual responsibility, the notion that human potential can consciously be raised, the ability to accommodate ambiguity and change, and the domain of rationality as distinct from the supernatural. A subset of attitudes and beliefs surrounding the child may also offer the key to fertility motivation.  

It is known that attitudes, beliefs and values change in response to modern education and employment in factories. The introduction of improved agricultural technology also produces demonstrable changes in the world view of peasants. If modern education and modern employment were in sight for all people in the underdeveloped world, one might be content to let attitudes, beliefs and values change in their wake. Unfortunately, economic, environmental and fertility realities make that prospect remote. The question the Middle East office seeks to examine is whether acceptable methods can be found to speed up the process of individual modernization. If so, productivity gains and lower fertility may more readily be achieved.  

There is no question about the possibility of affecting attitudes and values by direct action. Missionaries, leaving aside their religious purposes, notably advanced the cultural levels in many of the communities with which they worked around the world. They achieved this through individual modernization primarily, rather than through improved technology or social structure. The Maoist Chinese have been as diligent in altering individual attitudes and beliefs as in changing technology or structure. Our conviction is that it is possible to accelerate individual modernization without reliance on unacceptable ideologies.  

Many of the critical variables involved are implanted in the individual during early childhood. Thereafter they become more difficult to change. Consequently, we began our exploration of the field by supporting a UNICEF research project on the child rearing beliefs and practices of Omani women in two remote villages. The mothers proved not surprisingly to be very concerned about the prevailing high levels of infant mortality, but many of their actions to protect offspring were designed to ward off the evil eye and appease the djinn. Similarly, superstition and custom ruled their dietary and sanitation practices.

It is difficult to see how improved technology or modern schools, hospitals and agricultural extension services can much benefit these rural Omanis without coming directly to grips with underlying attitudes, beliefs and values. On the other hand, the gains that can be made at the individual or community level are limited unless technological advances in their means of production are also available. We do not suggest that individual modernization alone is enough to bring about development.  

Oman, having only recently emerged from 25 years of almost complete seclusion, is an extreme case, not typical of the Arab world or most other developing areas. Even in Lebanon, however, Edwin Terry Prothro's study in the 1960's of child rearing revealed practices much more suited to raising children for traditional, than for modern, life. Again with UNICEF, the Foundation has supported the compilation and publication of an Arabic guidebook of maternal health and child care, written by a Sunni Muslim Lebanese woman who canvassed local medical, nutritional and behavioral authorities in compiling her work. It is being published this month.  

Traditional social attitudes inhibit access to the childrearing environment of the home in some Arab areas and cost factors lead us to consider mass media for reaching mothers and young children. With rising income levels, television is spreading rapidly. At this writing, a team from Children's Television Workshop is in the Gulf states, at the invitation of those governments, examining the possibility of co-producing educational children's programs in Arabic. 

Another element of individual modernization in the Arab world is the child's operational command of written Arabic. Arabic poses a special problem because the written and normally spoken codes differ substantially. This is a delicate and religiously sensitive area, but despite occasional missteps, we are continuing to probe the field.

A survey of experimentation and innovation in teaching written Arabic should be completed next month by Matta Akrawi, a respected Arab scholar who serves as consultant to the Foundation. Also, research into the problems encountered by a child in learning the written code, by psycholinguists VVayne and Sonia Aller, is underway at AUB.

Modest beginnings have also been made in the popularization of science. Jamal Manassah, a young physicist from AUB, serving as part-time consultant to the Foundation, is working to improve the content of materials used by science clubs in Egypt and Lebanon.  

Not enough is known about individual modernization and how it happens. We have suggested elsewhere that the Foundation examine the field carefully for opportunities to increase understanding of the phenomenon. In the Middle East two research ideas are being examined which, if feasible, may make a small contribution to our understanding:  

1)  After 20 or more years of relative affluence from oil production, Kuwait has a full array of modern social services. Through a combination of demographic and psychological research techniques we hope to learn why the crude fertility rate of native Kuwaitis is still around 46 per 1000. Our hypothesis is that, acquiring wealth the way they did, the Kuwaitis have not undergone the changes in underlying attitudes, values and beliefs that normally occur in the development process of gradually increasing productivity. 

2)  In the Sudan, we hope to examine the relationship between changes in childrearing and fertility and the length of time farmers have been engaged in irrigated agriculture. The Gezira scheme is two generations old and more recent schemes of 15, 10 and one year’s duration offer an interesting research opportunity. It is anticipated that if changes can be identified and charted, the process of attitudinal change in the newer schemes can be accelerated. 

This section of the paper has a length disproportionate to our investment in individual modernization activities. It is an area where we believe we are breaking new ground and hence may warrant somewhat greater elucidation than other program fields. The following paragraphs deal with several aspects of the Middle East office’s style of operation that may be of particular interest to the Committee.


Prior to the October War, when the oil states were wealthy but not titanic, the Foundation had engaged in only one major project in the Peninsula, the Saudi-financed administrative reform program that terminated in 1973.  

A modest entry into the Gulf began in 1973, when a manpower specialist and a consultant on administrative reform were assigned to Bahrain on a shared cost basis. James Socknat on manpower had a regional mandate so his salary was paid by the Foundation, but Fred Bent in administration and subsequently William Snavely in economics had three quarters of their costs borne by the Bahrain government.  

In March 1974 we agreed to a Saudi request for the services of Wesley Edwards as advisor to the Ministry of Education, and asked him to serve in a representational capacity in Riyadh as well. In order to ensure that he was his own man, we decided against seeking a shared-cost arrangement. He has come to believe that that decision was important.  

We are now faced with a decision as to whether to post a man in the Gulf with the dual specialist-representative assignment that is working well in Riyadh and Khartoum. The Prime Minister of Bahrain, pleased with Socknat and Bent, suggested that the Foundation should have an office in the Gulf, and offered to share in its cost if the site were Bahrain. Bolstered by the Riyadh experience, we are currently inclined to be positive about the idea and to select Kuwait as the site for the following reasons. 

1)  The importance of the peninsular states to the world economy has put a premium on their orderly development. The Foundation staff, with wide experience and contacts, effectively serve as disinterested advisors and honest brokers for Western non-profit institutions.  

In the course of a year Edwards has helped to create linkages between the Saudi Ministry of Education and the following institutions: AUB in science education and principal training; Indiana University in audio-visual planning; the Center for Applied Linguistics in English language; Florida State University and the University of Maryland in science and mathematics education; the Educational Testing Service in testing; and the Educational Products Information Exchange in educational equipment specifications. In addition, assistance has been provided to the Vice Rector, Dean of Libraries and the Deputy Dean of Education of the University of Riyadh in visiting U. S. institutions to discuss the possibility of cooperation. Beyond the brokerage role, Edwards and other members of the professional staff have provided consulting assistance to the government in the fields of manpower planning, management and education.  

In the Gulf, many of the sheikhdoms could benefit from the sort of brokerage we are doing in Riyadh. Kuwait, while more sophisticated, has expressed a need for better links with U. S. higher education, links of the sort we can help forge. The current ad hoc fashion in which American universities are approaching the oil states is not entirely healthy for either side. We plan to explore ways to foster a more coherent dialogue between American and Arab educators whether we move further in the Gulf or not. 

2)  The Foundation's experience in the foreign aid field may prove useful to Arab philanthropy. Arab aid-giving to date has impressive dimensions but is not easy to document. Kuwait is reported to give away 6% of its GNP, and it has by far the most professional methods for handling aid. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) is modeled on the IBRD and its work has been relatively isolated from political pressures. Kuwait took the lead in establishing the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development (AFSED) two years ago. So far APSED has made only a few loans of the sort the KFAED makes, but its charter calls for work in the social and educational fields as well. 

Mechanisms for support of educational and scientific research are vitally needed. In addition to research, there is need for library development, translations of scholarly works and the stimulation of children's book production, all of which could be facilitated by Arab foundations or special funds. The field holds promise for fruitful Ford Foundation efforts, and a beginning has been made. 

3)  Kuwait is a unique development laboratory. The opportunity Kuwait presents for learning about the development process is in some ways unparalleled. It is a country with good statistical services and a full panoply of modern services. It remains under-developed in some important senses, and offers a chance to examine the importance of individual and family modernization because the technological and structural constraints have been removed. 

Intriguing economic questions are also raised by the sheikhdoms, many of which can look forward to oil wealth for only one or two generations.  Serious thinking about what these states should do now to prepare for life without mineral wealth has only begun. It is a task we would like to share. 

Ahmad Duaij, head of the Kuwait Planning Board, regrets the lack of middle-distance research into economic and social questions in Kuwait. He has welcomed an association with the Foundation. Similarly, the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce at the University is keen to cooperate with the Foundation on research and other matters. Negotiations are proceeding.

Cooperation with Other Funds  

Space limitations prohibit a full discussion of our pattern of interaction with domestic divisions of the Foundation, U.N. agencies, the IDRC and U.S. Government (PL 480), but a chart will be available at the Committee meeting showing the extent we are currently "leveraging" funds.

Use of Staff 

A staff list of the Middle East office must include local consultants and perennial foreign consultants in addition to full-time professionals, in order to show the full scope of the regional network of professionals on whom our program depends.  

The pattern of staff interaction is difficult to describe briefly. Each geographical representative -- Bunker for Egypt, Salacuse for the Sudan, Edwards for Saudi Arabia, Olson for Syria and Jordan -- becomes an entrepreneur seeking to attract the professional attentions of substantive specialists to program tasks in his area. But this also happens with substantive staff. Delwin Roy has enlisted the cooperation of Benedict in sociology, Gotsch in agricultural economics and Salacuse in law in furthering his work with the Institute of National Planning and the investment program in Egypt.  

The once clear distinctions between management staff and program staff have thus begun to blur. Several characteristics of the Middle East program tend to raise the management share of our budget -- geographical dispersion, numerous small grant actions, labor-intensive style -- but these are precisely the factors which, we believe, permit us to increase our effectiveness in the region despite declining budgets.

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