Thoughts on Globalization from the Middle East

A recent poll surveying six Muslim nations about their ideas of globalization found that contrary to the common assumption that Muslims have a negative view of globalization, globalization is generally viewed positively in the six predominantly Muslim nations polled.
The study, conducted between January 12 and February 23, surveyed populations in Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and the Palestinian Territories, plus the Muslim population in Nigeria. The findings were released August 27.
The survey included 10 questions about globalization; not each question was asked to each country—only two questions were posed to Iranians.
When the question was asked, “Do you believe that globalization, especially the increasing connections of our economy with others around the world, is mostly good or mostly bad for [your country,” majorities in six of the seven publics polled said that it is “mostly good” for their country. Egypt had the most positive view with 79 percent of respondents saying globalization was mostly good, while Turkey had the most negative view of globalization, with only 39 percent of respondents saying it was mostly good. Iranian respondents polled close to the average of 63 percent, with 61 percent of Iranians saying globalization was mostly good.
When asked whether international trade was good or bad for the respondent’s country, majorities in five of six nations polled say that it is good. Majorities or pluralities in five of six nations also said international trade was good for their countries’ companies, Nigerian Muslims being the only exception. Populations in Iran were not asked this question.
Most of the respondents also said international trade is good for their own standard of living—on average 56 percent hold this view, with only 30 percent saying their standard of living is hurt by international trade. This question was not asked of Iranian respondents.
In terms of trade and labor, views of the effect of international trade on workers is more mixed. While trade is widely seen as positive for creating jobs, its effect on job security work workers produces more divided responded. On average, 61 percent think international trade is good for creating jobs in their own counties, while 29 percent think it has a negative effect on domestic job creation. A 48-percent plurality believes international trade is good for job security, compared to 37 percent who believe the reverse. Iranians were not surveyed for this question.
Of all the effects posed to respondents, international trade’s effect on the environment elicited the most negative views, but opinions varied. Forty-four percent of respondents said international trade had a negative effect while 42 percent said it had a positive effect on the environment. Iranians were not surveyed for this question.
In terms of environmental and labor standards in trade agreements, some proposed requiring minimum environmental standards in trade agreements as a way to address the potentially negative impact of trade on the environment. While on average, 80 percent of respondents said international trade agreements should be required to maintain minimum standards for working conditions, 75 percent of Iranians agreed that minimum standards should be set.
Steven Kull, director of, said, “These findings run counter to the widespread assumption that people in the Muslim world are anxious and hostile about the prospect of integration into the global economy.”
The poll of 5,216 respondents was conducted by, a collaborative research project involving research centers from around the world and managed by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. Margins of error range from +/- 3.2 to 4.1 percent.


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