International Order & Conflict
Project Note

Envisioning the Future: Iranian and Saudi Perspectives on the Post-Oil Economy

This research product was originally published by the EastWest Institute. This project was relaunched at the Stimson Center after EastWest discontinued operations in January of 2021. 

The EastWest Institute and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) held a two-day confidential dialogue meeting between participants from Iran and Saudi Arabia in Bonn focusing on challenges facing the region in a “post-oil” economy in October 2016.

Executive summary of the brief:

Falling oil and gas prices and shrinking demand across global energy markets pose enormous challenges for energy exporting countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia and lead to decreasing revenues from this sector. Despite differences in the structures of their respective national economies, both countries share common challenges in adapting to this new situation. High youth unemployment rates, an underrepresentation of women in the workforce, a public sector unable to absorb the high numbers of university graduates as well as environmental degradation and pollution, all constitute major problems for both countries and their economies. But, while solving many of these issues would ideally demand bilateral cooperation, a political climate of mutual mistrust and enmity currently inhibits such a process.

CARPO and the EastWest Institute initiated a meeting of experts from Saudi Arabia and Iran as part of their ‘Iran-Saudi Track 2 Initiative.’ The stated aim was to shed light on the challenges and opportunities a ‘post-oil’ era might bring as well as to explore potential areas for cooperation between both countries. While participants agreed on the necessity of cooperation for creating strong and less oil-dependent economies, from which both countries as well as the whole region would benefit, their assessments varied on where this could begin.

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