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THE MIDDLE EAST CONTAINS a wide variety of nations and states that is as diverse in economic opportunities as it is in ethnicity, religion, and language. It ranges from Iran and Iraq bordering on the Afghanistan region in the east, the Persian Gulf states in the south, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Syria on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt and the north African Muslim states to the west. The cultural and economic patterns linking this region also link it in some contexts with Turkey and the island of Cyprus. It is, therefore, a complex region with a great deal of diversity.

It would be simplistic to classify it as the Muslim region of the world because that would be to ignore the many important ethnic ...

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