"In the short term, a decline in food and basic commodity prices has relieved pressure on Arab consumers. Many of the oil-rich gulf states such as Saudi Arabia built up huge cash reserves and sovereign wealth funds during the time of peak oil prices that will help them weather the downturn.
But trouble looms. The French energy giant Total predicts global demand for oil will drop by 2 million barrels a day. Economists say a decline in remittances from Arabs in the West and the Persian Gulf countries and a sharp drop in commodity prices will eventually increase unemployment and unrest in economically fragile countries such as Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan. The International Monetary Fund has predicted declines in the growth of gross domestic product across the Arab world for 2009. Analysts say North African nations dependent on trade with a faltering Europe will also be hurt."