The past 50 years have been dominated by the rise of the oil industry, but in the space of a few years key markets such as the US and Europe have begun to take alternative energy seriously.

How will this aff ect regional producers? While many Middle East countries have been using their hydrocarbon resources to diversify into heavy industry, shortages of gas supplies are already raising questions about local consumption patterns. What happens when oil begins to run out? And how will regional businesses adapt to the sort of economies that might emerge? What sort of society will they be operating in?

Will property, the economy and media and communications remain in the hands of the state, or private individuals? Will cities be swamped by the rapidly growing populations of the region? How can today’s city planners stay one step ahead?

In the following section, MEED analyses the most important trends aff ecting regional development in 2007, and predicts where this will lead Middle East economies and societies in the decades to come.

Looking ahead – index of stories

  1. The next 50 years

  2. Energy: Addicted to oil

  3. Energy: Middle East oil outlook

  4. Economy: The Middle East is more than just oil

  5. Economy: Attracting investment to the Middle East

  6. Technology: Micro managing IT

  7. Technology: Hi-tech learning in Cairo, Amman and the Palestinian territories

  8. Companies: Out with the old for a new breed of company

  9. Banking & finance: How Islamic bonds can help local banks take on the giants

  10. Industry: Heading downstream

  11. Industry: Ras Tanura’s integrated outlook

  12. People: Turning the demographic surge into an asset

  13. Media: The Arab media revolution

  14. Media: Al-Jazeera TV on finding a voice

  15. Real Estate: Building a future

  16. Construction: Building’s tall stories

  17. Construction: Buildings in the Gulf reach for the sky

  18. Infrastructure: Making connections for water and electricity

  19. Socio-economic development in the Middle East