Labor Shortage in the EU

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY points to a new report by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies that shows that, while most of central and eastern European countries have been growing at their highest rates since the global financial crisis about a decade ago, this boom may be overdue to severe shortage of labor in the EU.

Global relocation of economic migrants stands at an all-time high in modern history. With Central and Eastern Europe being a large part of the EU, both skilled and unskilled labor has migrated to Western European EU member states. Simply put – if you are a carpenter in Western Poland, then why would you work in Poland when you can make double in Germany, which is just an hour drive away. As Western Europe has been feeding on labor, originating from Eastern and Central Europe, a vacuum of labor has emerged and is growing in Central and Eastern European countries.

Central and Eastern European countries, which have been struggling to fill up vacancies as more and more workers migrate to Western Europe in search of better pay. The labor shortage has pushed down unemployment rates in the region to record lows and driven job vacancies to their highest levels. The shortfall can also be attributed to a decline in the overall population. Most countries in the region have experienced shrinking populations over the past 15 years even as the total population in the EU has gone up.

The working-age population in these countries has been shrinking due to migration and other demographic factors such as low fertility rates. This shortage might result in lower GDP growth rates which could have severe implications for the welfare systems. As the aforementioned report stated, migration and low fertility rates are expected to cause the working-age population (aged 20-64) in central and eastern European countries to shrink by about 30 percent by 2050.

So, how does the EU solve its shortage of labor? Primarily by bringing in workers from outside the EEU. The organic economic trend of EU employers searching for workers globally is driving the numbers of EU bound foreign workers into dozens of millions annually.

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, New York notices that in December 2011, the so-called Single Permit Directive was adopted. It creates a set of rights for non-EU workers legally residing in an EU State, notably the right to equal treatment with nationals in the country they reside and work. The Directive applies to most non-EU nationals with authorization to reside and work in the EU, independently of their initial reason for admission, unless they are explicitly excluded from the scope of the Directive. Its scope includes both non-EU nationals seeking to be admitted to an EU State in order to stay and work there and those who are already resident and have access to the labour market or are already working there. It provides for:

A single permit giving the right both to residence and work

A single application procedure for this permit

A set of rights for non-EU workers, notably the right to equal treatment with nationals of the country where they reside and work, in a number of key areas: working conditions, freedom of association and joining organisations representing workers, education and vocational training, recognition of diplomas, social security, tax benefits, access to goods and services including procedures for housing and employment advice services. Some exemptions may be applied by the Member States. The right to social security can, for instance, be limited to those in employment, or who have worked for at least 6 months and who are registered as unemployed.

Jon Purizhansky says that a foreign worker can work in the Schengen Area if she/he holds a National (D) Visa for employment purposes issued by one of the 26 European countries parts of the Schengen Zone. The fact that dozens of millions of D Visa recipients enter the EU annually coupled with the fact that the manpower recruitment industry is full of fraud, inefficiency and non-transparency creates risk not only to the economic health of the EU but also to the domestic security in Europe. European employers largely meet their employees for the first time when employees arrive.

Often times so-called “manpower brokers” or “recruiters” charge prospective employees exorbitant amounts of money by promising them unreal employment terms and when the non-European employees show up in the EU, their expectations are not aligned with the expectations of their European employers. Consequently, employees leave their employees, file complaints with government agencies and NGOs and become illegal aliens in the EU by illegally migrating in violation of their “D Visa” conditions. Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY points out that without a systemic technological solution the situation will continue to get worse.

Important to understand global migration flows

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY defines the concept of global migration as a permanent move to a new location. Global migration is at its most active point in modern history. It’s rapidly changing the demographic, social and economic landscape of the planet. For this reason, it’s important to understand global migration flows. Data on migration flows are essential for understanding global migration patterns and how different factors and policies in countries of origin and destination may be related to flows. Currently, only 45 countries report migration flow data to the United Nations (UN DESA, 2015). Migration flows “refer to the number of migrants entering or leaving a given country during a given period of time, usually one calendar year” (UN SD, 2017). However, countries use different concepts, definitions and data collection methodologies to compile statistics on migration flows. Definitions of who counts as an international migrant vary over time in the same country and across countries. That’s why it’s important to understand how many people actually leave countries of origin and actually enter countries of destination.

Although the number may not be accurate, global estimates based on census data suggest that 0.5 percent – or approximately 37 million people – left their native country to live in another country between 2010 and 2015 (Abel, 2016). Some countries report data on annual flows to the UN Statistics Division (UN SD), who has a mandate to collect migration statistics, including on migration flows, from countries through the Demographic Yearbook data collection system. Some countries report data to OECD or the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) as well. OECD data on permanent migration inflows allow to distinguish between different types of migration flows including work, family and humanitarian migration (OECD, 2017). However, the number of countries reporting flow data is limited and the data are often not harmonized.

 

According to Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY, absence of systemic flow data has led researchers to develop their own estimates of global migration flows based on 5-year intervals (see Abel and Sander, 2014; Raymer et al., 2013). These estimates are based on UN statistics, some of which are available from the DEMIG Country-to-Country database (C2C) of the University of Oxford, which contains bilateral migration flows data for at least 34 countries. The database also provides gender breakdowns were available and more historical depth.

Another tool worth mentioning is DTM.

The International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), a system to track and monitoring population displacement and mobility, collects migration flows data through flow monitoring component in more than 30 countries. DTM flow monitoring assesses areas of high mobility, often at key entry, exit, and transit locations. Flow monitoring activities aim to derive quantitative estimates of the flow of individuals through specific locations and to collect information about the profiles, intentions, and needs of the people moving. Numbers of people moving within areas of free circulation such as the European Union or the Southern Common Market (Mercosur in Latin America) are also indicated separately in the OECD’s International Migration Database.

The system off tracking data, however, is still very fragmented and inefficient. The tracking system is dependent of collecting data from administrative sources, but such sources usually record events (e.g. issuance/renewal/withdrawal of a residence permit) and may not necessarily reflect actual migration movements (e.g. a residence permit is not renewed but the person stays in the country, or the permit is renewed but the person leaves the country).

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, New York notices that without a systemic global technological solution, tracking and monitoring global relocation will become more and more difficult. Creating a unified blockchain technology system will help government agencies in both, destination and origination countries, employers, and third-party organizations by tracking and storing not only migrants’ identification documents, but also their migration history (renewals, visas, approvals, denials, supporting documents, etc….). It will not only generate transparency and efficiency for all participants of the global relocation ecosystem, but it will also assist researchers to understand and quantify global relocation data.

Blockchain and Electronic Medical Records

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY says that current electronic medical records (EMR) systems are a mess in the United States. If a patient visits a doctor, there is no efficient way for the doctor to obtain transparency into this patient’s medical history. For example, when you go visit your primary care doctor, unless you allow him to obtain your medical records from all the other doctors you have visited, there is no way for your primary to understand what issues you have had before, particularly if you don’t remember. This creates serious inefficiencies and results in lower-quality care for all US patients. Additionally, if the data cannot be integrated into existing systems, doctors are unable to take full advantage of innovations in health data to make the best decisions about a patient’s health.

Blockchain network

However, Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY says that applying blockchain technology to EMR could fix the problem. Blockchain is a database that leverages cloud storage infrastructure to maintain a secure list of data records or transactions. Smart contracts within the blockchain platform allow logic to be programmed into the blockchain and executed when a transaction is made.

With respect to the EMR system, blockchain would create the ability to upload, store, and transfer files securely and cost-effectively. Rather than requiring health data to be stored in a centralized database, blockchain utilizes secure cloud technologies enabling data to be seamlessly shared and accessed from multiple sources. For example, during annual check-ups, physicians could review data synced from apps and wearable devices like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, instead of relying on patients to accurately, and honestly, divulge their health and exercise habits. In more urgent situations, a doctor may access blockchain-sourced data to determine whether the patient is allergic to certain medicines, or gather other critical information necessary for treatment.

Despite the efficiencies, blockchain provides, the concerns for maintaining the integrity of healthcare data is legitimate. In the first half of 2017, there were 233 health data breaches, affecting more than 3 million people, reported in the United States. Over 41 percent of the breaches were insider-caused. However, the services provided by blockchain help assuage the anxieties of bringing valuable, personal healthcare data into the digital world. Blockchain offers particularly strong benefits in three areas: integrity, permission, and decentralization. Blockchain ensures the information on the chain is verified by requiring users to provide a signature and time-stamp with a private key to access the data.

Blockchain can trace successful, or attempted, hacks and falsified records to an exact user to mitigate data breaches and insurance fraud. Blockchain maintains a permanent ledger, making it much more difficult for records to be lost or misplaced. Instead of relying on photocopies from their doctor’s office or third-party provider, patients have control over their data. Blockchain uses the logic that powers smart contracts, allowing users to give permissions, and control with whom their data is shared. The logic built into blockchain allows patients to have the best of both worlds, providing access to doctors when they need it, while simultaneously protecting data from unauthorized users. It’s important to note that Blockchain does not require data to be centrally maintained. Healthcare information can be stored in cloud databases and devices around the globe, ultimately providing patients with the power to control and share their data.

By removing the requirement for doctors, hospitals, and other care providers to be stored into a single health data system, patients are empowered to decide when, how, and to what extent their information may be shared with those who provide care. Private, public, and government agencies are all looking towards the potential uses and innovations for blockchain. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the theory on how to integrate blockchain with the EMR is clear, a systemic efficient solution has not yet been created.

If a single blockchain platform is created and is integrated with all EMR systems in a HIPAA compliant way, the quality of patient care will increase substantially due to the newly created ability for physicians to analyze patient data. Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY hopes that the United States will become a leader in safe, private, and secure storage and distribution of health records, thereby increasing the efficiency of patient care in a previously unrealized way.

Cybersecurity and why it’s important

According to Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY, one hears a lot about cyber security these days. So, what exactly is cybersecurity? Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These digital attacks, also known as the cyberattacks, target governments, corporations, non-governmental institutions and private individuals and are aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money; or interrupting business or government processes.

Implementing effective cybersecurity measures is becoming more difficult, because there are more devices than people, and attackers are becoming more innovative. Cyber attackers can be governments, companies, criminal organizations, terrorists and individuals.

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY mentions that multiple layers of protection must be implemented to create successful cybersecurity approach. In an organization, the human factor, processes, and technology must all complement one another to create an effective defense from cyber attacks. Human factor is important, because people must choose strong passwords, be thoughtful when opening email attachments and remember to back up data. Processes are important, because organizations have to have protocols for dealing with both attempted and successful cyber attacks. It’s important that both, members of organizations and private individuals are able to identify attacks, protect systems, detect and respond to threats, and recover from successful attacks and this ability comes with following protocols.

Lastly, technology is important because it provides organizations and individuals with computer security tools needed to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Three main entities must be protected: endpoint devices like computers, smart devices, and routers; networks; and the cloud. Common technology used to protect these entities include next-generation firewalls, DNS filtering, malware protection, antivirus software, and email security solutions.

Cybersecurity attacks can have truly devastating effects in today’s world. Everyone relies on critical infrastructure like power plants, hospitals, defense infrastructure and financial service companies. Securing these and other organizations is essential to keeping our society functioning. There are four classical types of cyber-attacks. They are:

 

1) Ransomware, which is a type of malicious software designed to extort money by blocking access to files or the computer system until the ransom is paid. This attack is typically perpetuated by criminals and criminal organizations.

2) Malware is a type of software designed to gain unauthorized access or to cause damage to a computer.

3) Social engineering is used to trick you into revealing sensitive information. They can solicit a monetary payment or gain access to your confidential data. Social engineering can be combined with any of the threats listed above to make you more likely to click on links, download malware, or trust a malicious source.

4) Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent emails that resemble emails from reputable sources. Once you click on a link or open an attachment , the attackers become able to steal sensitive data like credit card numbers and login information. It’s the most common type of cyber attack.

Jon Purizhansky mentions that cyberwarfare is also becoming part of warfare employed by nation states. North Korea and China are good examples , although with time we will probably see every military in the world establish branches that engage in cyber warfare both offensively and defensively.

Karpeles Manuscript Library of Buffalo, NY

Jon Purizhansky says that Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. The library was founded in 1983 by California real estate magnates, David, and Marsha Karpeles, with the goal of stimulating interest in learning. Buffalo, NY is the only city with two museums. The Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Buffalo was once the former First Church of Christ, Scientist. The congregation commissioned Chicago architect Solon S. Beman to design the building at 220 North St. The structure was built in 1911. The Christian Scientists occupied the building until the early 1980s, followed by a succession of Baptist congregations, until it was purchased by the Museum in December 2003. It formally opened in 2006.

 

Karpeles Manuscript
Karpeles Manuscript

Jon Purizhansky says that there are now 10 museums in 9 cities across the United States. The museums are located in small and midsize cities although the Karpeleses put on an exhibit on Central Park West in New York City in 1991.

As of September 2017, there were eleven museums. Worth noticing is The Queen City Market, which has become a keystone event for the Buffalo holiday season. Each year, over 50 artists and artisans take over the beautiful Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Buffalo to showcase their wares, in a setting that is like no other in the region. The Queen City Market is a wonderful social gathering spot, filled with all sorts of surprises. The market is the perfect setting for anyone who is looking to source locally made wares that are completely unique to Buffalo, NY.

Weddings are often held at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum of Buffalo. Jon Purizhansky says that guests have typically nothing but amazing things to say about the architecture and historical beauty of the buildings, and they required minimal decoration because they’re already so beautiful on their own. The staff is also incredibly helpful and accommodating. There are many great hotels nearby and although there are nine more Karpeles Manuscript Museums throughout the United States, the museum based in Buffalo, NY is definitely worth a visit

Economic Developments in Buffalo, NY

Jon Purizhansky says that Buffalo international airport is busy. “When we first opened the airport in 1997, we were doing about 3 million passengers a year, and now we’re doing 5 million passengers a year. So, we need the additional space downstairs in the baggage claim area to make a better experience for our visitors in Western New York,” said NFTA Director of Aviation Bill Vanecek. The airport is currently undergoing an 80 million enhancement project. Some of the improvements include the building of two new exiting concourses to ease congestion at the security checkpoint. The baggage claim area will also be 50 percent bigger and includes the addition of four new baggage return belts.

Economic Developments

The airport, however, is not the only development underway in Buffalo. Jon Purizhansky says that there is no shortage of new construction and renovation activity heading toward completion in 2019 and beyond. Large projects have been completed at HarborCenter at Canalside, RiverBend in South Buffalo, the Delaware North Building at 250 Delaware, and the new Convent us Building, Oishei Children’s Hospital and University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Ellicott Development Co. has launched the 500 Pearl project, a very cool 12-story downtown tower with a new hotel, apartments, office space, retail space and even a bowling alley.

Washington, D.C., developer Douglas Jemal last year kicked off his $120 million remake of the Seneca One Tower, which is Buffalo’s tallest building. The Buffalo Urban Development Corp. is investing over $120 million in the Northland Project, which is turning a 35-acre swath of industrial land on the Buffalo’s East Side into a light-industrial economic development hub that will bring jobs and investment to the poorest neighborhood in Buffalo.

Stuart Alexander & Associates and Rhonda Ricks are spending $50.7 million to convert the vacant former Buffalo Forge Manufacturing Co. plant at 490 Broadway into a new residential community, with 158 affordable apartments and some retail space in the two-building main complex. LP Ciminelli is also continuing work on its $90 million remake of the 27-acre former Central Park Plaza site into a new residential community, dubbed Highland Park, with more than 663 new apartments, town homes and for-sale homes. Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. is finalizing its proposal for 201 Ellicott St., where it wants to construct a multistory building with 201 affordable apartments and an unspecified fresh-food market, but not a previously proposed parking facility. The mayor of Buffalo says that “This has been an incredible decade of growth, development and progress in the City of Buffalo. It is a special time in our City’s history – we are in the midst of a transformation that will be felt for generations to come.”

Jon Purizhansky says that Buffalo is no longer a depressed rust belt town, but is now a bustling city in New York flushed with new investment capital that features many new projects and that is now home to a great deal of entrepreneurs and young professionals and is well on its way to become a major economic hub.

Things to do in Buffalo, NY

Jon Purizhansky says that Buffalo, NY has become a real tourist attraction lately. It is seeing a movement to preserve a number of historical buildings, including the works of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who has several famous homes in the Buffalo area. One can set sail on the Spirit of Buffalo for a scenic day cruise or evening sunset sail. Buffalo is also the gateway to the Niagara Falls, a globally known landmark.  Niagara State Park is America’s oldest, and each year tourists make the short drive from Buffalo to watch more than 750,000 gallons rush over the edge each second.

Jon Purizhansky also notices Niagara Wine Trail as a great wine trail. There are many wineries on the wine trail that are open to the public for tastings and tours.   

The micro-climate around the Great Lakes allows for the production of fine wines including Riesling, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and ice wines. There are currently 19 wineries in the Greater Buffalo area and plenty of B&Bs, restaurants, and bars. Buffalo is also home to Ralph Wilson Stadium, the only professional NFL football stadium in New York State and to the third oldest zoo in the United States, which hosts wild species from around the world and is a participant in global conservation efforts.

More than 1,000 animals are housed at the Buffalo Zoo that includes some of the rarest animals in the world. There are many great parks in and around Buffalo, including the Eternal Flame Falls, where the eternal flame is supported by natural gas seeps that break through the earth’s surface. Another great Buffalo area attraction is Fort Niagara, which sits on the head of the Niagara River. First held by General La Salle and his French troops in 1678, the fort eventually was a stronghold for both the British and Americans.

Jon Purizhansky says that Buffalo is also home to the bustling urban cultural scene. Founded in 1862, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is among the world’s leading collections of international sculptures and paintings, including works by Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Matisse, and Van Gogh. There are many other galleries, including Burchfield Penney Art Center with its outstanding collection of regional art. Most galleries are located in the Elmwood Village neighborhood of Buffalo.

The Elmwood Village was named by the American Planning Association as one of the country’s 10 best neighborhoods and boasts some of the city’s most popular boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Elmwood Village has been Buffalo’s “cool” neighborhood since before it had any real competition for that title. Now, however, there is a number of up-and-coming districts in Buffalo that include Hertel Avenue, Allentown, and a resurgent downtown, all full of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. These attractions and much more make Buffalo a great place to visit any time of the year.

The Re-Emergence of Buffalo, NY

The Sunday Times of London, UK recently called Buffalo, NY “America’s coolest summer city” (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/buffalo-new-york-america-cool-summer-city-guide-dl0mgmvr2 ). According to Jon Purizhansky, Buffalo, NY has gone through an unbelievable turn around from being a backward Rust Belt town to a successful urban center full of talent, culture, and entrepreneurship, not to mention the sports.

Jon Purizhansky says that Buffalo has seen billions of dollars of investments in Buffalo’s future. New York State pledged a Billion dollars through its Buffalo Billion initiative, which developed an organization called 43North that awards funds to entrepreneurs through an annual competition. This has catalyzed the development of a budding technology entrepreneurship scene in Buffalo.

When you visit the innovation center on Elicott Street downtown Buffalo and you see all the young technology entrepreneurs turning ideas into businesses, you see no difference between Buffalo, Boston or the Silicon Valley. The ambiance is the same – it’s energy, its confidence, it’s about building new things and it’s about the new Buffalo.

Another sign that the region has changed, according to Jon Purizhansky, is the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), a collaboration between several downtown institutions, including Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University at Buffalo, and Upstate New York Transplant Services (Unyts). Since the commencement of operations, BNMC has created tens of thousands of jobs and entire neighborhoods that surround the BNMC have been revitalized, a truly remarkable development.

Jon Purizhansky also mentions the START-UP NY initiative, which has been launched as an incentive for entrepreneurs and small business owners to bring their business to New York State and operate tax-free for 10 years. Since the program’s beginning, over 70 companies have come to Greater Buffalo. This has not only resulted in many new jobs but has also led to an influx of millennials into the city of Buffalo.

Young professionals are now attracted to Buffalo by its hip urban environment combined with a relatively low cost of living. Since 2000, the number of college grads ages 25-34 living within a 3-mile radius of downtown Buffalo has risen 34%, one of the highest percentages among the country’s largest metro areas. So, according to Jon Purizhansky, not only Buffalo became full of opportunities for the youngest members of the workforce, it’s an affordable and desirable place to live, too.

To conclude, Jon Purizhansky says that Buffalo is not only rising up but may rather be in the path to its old glory, when it was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the United States of America.

Rapprochement between Israel and Gulf States

The political landscape in the Middle East has gone through astonishing changes over the last 10 years. Every Arab country in the world used to be Israel’s enemy. According to Jon Purizhansky, it is no longer the case. Gulf monarchies have not only become Israel’s strategic allies but have come out in the open by proclaiming that peace with Israel will create nothing but benefits for their constituents.

More recent diplomatic exposure has brought the relationship between Israel and the Arab States out into the open and has signaled that the establishment of formal relations is just around the corner for the first time. Jon Purizhansky says that this development will not only change the Middle East – it will change the entire world

Recently, Israeli political leaders have held much-publicized meetings with the governments of Bahrain and Oman. There is talk about establishing formal relationships with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Jon Purizhansky says that the Iranian threat coupled with excessive regional instability and the mistrust between various nation-states in the neighborhood is driving this development forward.

Israel stands to benefit in countless ways from the alliance. Israel is constantly criticized for mistreating the Palestinians by the liberal West and by the Palestinians themselves. Clear demonstration of alliance and friendship between Israel and its non-Palestinian Arab neighbors destroys the flawed premise on which the anti-Israeli propaganda is built. Any reasonable person would conclude that “if the Arab States that lost land in wars with Israel even before the term “Palestinian” had been created want to be Israel’s friends now, then why can’t Palestinians do the same?” The growing alliance with the Arab states also points to the fact that Israeli strategic policies have worked.

If the Israeli government can show that the wealthy Arab countries of the region are willing to normalize relations with Israel despite continued settlement building in the West Bank and no peace on the horizon with Palestinians, then the criticism of Netanyahu holds no water, and he will have been proven right—at least in the medium term.

Jon Purizhansky points to Neganyahu’s recent statement that while other Israeli leaders had tried to bridge the relationship with the Arab and Muslim world through “concessions” to the Palestinians, he had adamantly refused to do so. “We believe in peace out of strength,” Netanyahu countered. “We believe in alliances born out of Israel’s value as a technological, financial, defense, and intelligence powerhouse.”

Jon Purizhansky identifies three premises on which the alliance between Israel and the Gulf States is based.

The first premise is Iran, the danger Iran’s policies pose in the neighborhood and the geopolitics of the Middle East after 2011.

Israel does not have to face Iran alone now. The Islamic Republic is a regional threat, giving Israel more legitimacy in how it responds.

The second premise is Israel’s ability to provide the Gulf states with most developed security systems, thereby ensuring that current ruling families will continue to rule.

The third premise according to Jon Purizhansky is Israel’s close relationship with the United States. By positioning themselves as Israel’s partners, the Gulf States will be able to score in Washington. They will also be able to link their own security with Israel’s security in the eyes of the US Government.

Jon Purizhansky says that although Israel is highly unpopular on the Palestinian street, inevitably Palestinians stand to benefit economically in many ways from the new Israeli/Gulf States alliance. There will be investments and jobs will be created on the Palestinian Territories. Absent force major circumstances, which are so common in the Middle East, economic prosperity will create a stronger desire for peace amongst the Palestinian masses. Undoubtedly, it will take years, but the Israel/Gulf States alliance is the sign of things to come – much waited for peace and prosperity in the Middle East.