The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is currently growing and is seen to be one of the emerging business and economic regions of the world, with much happening recently. However, the MENA region has always been historically involved in global trade (Gelderblom and Trivellato, 2019, Aldous, 2019). In fact, before the Americas were discovered (end of the fifteenth century period), the Middle East region played an important role in world trade, and this included the famed West-East and East-West trade (Pereira and Malik, 2013; 2015; 2018). More specifically, the main West-East trade included the ‘Silk Road/Route’, that ran across the region from historical cities such as Aleppo to Baghdad, Rayy, Nishapur, Marv, and Samarkand, and through Kashgar to the T'ang capital, Chang'an (Xi'an) regions. Similarly, when it came to the East-West trade, items such as silk, porcelain, spices, dates, textiles, and horses moved in the opposite direction.
The slave trade also saw gold being traded from Sub-Saharan Africa and transported across the desert in exchange for textiles and salt. As a consequence, slaves were brought from East Africa to Egypt and to the Indian subcontinent in return for spices and textiles (Pereira and Malik, 2015; 2018). Other items such as food grain and salt were imported into Anatolia and further east from northern Europe. Dates also formed a major export to Europe from the Arab world, as was ivory and gold from sub-Saharan Africa.
Historically, cross border business involving this region dates back to the regime of the Ottoman Empire, which saw a significant trade between Western countries, and this was prevalent even during the wars. Thereafter, the Levant Company (founded in 1581, when agreements were enacted with France in 1569, when France took over from Venice as the leading trading nation in the Levant); the English East India Company (founded in 1600); and the Dutch East India Company (founded in 1602), all traded with the MENA countries (Pereira and Malik, 2015; 2018).
Business History's calls for Submissions for the Special Issue: Exploring Business History of the Middle East and North Africa Region
- Vijay Pereira, NEOMA Business School, Reims Campus, France (email@example.com)
- Yama Temouri, Khalifa University, UAE and Aston University, UK, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Shlomo Tarba, University of Birmingham, UK (email@example.com)
- Behlül Üsdiken, Sabanci University and Özyeğin University, Turkey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Neveen Abdelrehim, Newcastle University, UK
Thematic areas of the special issue:
Given the above background, not much has been researched or written on these historical aspects. This special issue call for papers thus solicits papers that delve into the historical aspects of business in the context of the region. We have put forth the following list of topics, derived from the extant historical literature that would be interesting and add to new knowledge. This list is not exhaustive and we solicit and encourage potential contributors to utilize this list as indicative.
Historically, how have the similarities and differences in cultural, institutional, religious, economic and political histories shaped these MENA countries’ business landscapes, over the years (e.g. Chaudhuri, 1990; Decker et al., 2018)?
How have previous historical conflicts, such as wars from the fourteenth century until World War II, shaped and impacted businesses in this region?
To what extent have Western influences historically impacted on business activity in this region (Decker, 2018; Abdelrehim & Toms, 2017)? What was the extent of convergence, divergence or crossvergence of business practices in the MENA region when it comes to cross-border trade and organizations (e.g. Üsdiken, and Kieser, 2004)?
What can we learn from unique and rare historical sources whilst investigating the historical landscape in the context of businesses in the MENA region (e.g. resources from the Ottoman archives) (e.g. Halil and Quataert, 1994)? Also, for example, what can be garnered from any local MENA economic historiographers and their accounts, like their Japanese, Chinese or Indian counterparts? Further, what can be unraveled from any Arabic and other indigenous archives to bring out historical facts that have not been previously researched and told?
How can prior research, if any, on the traditional industries of the MENA region, such as agriculture, handicrafts, mining, indigenous manufacturing, and on regulating oil in Iran and India (Abdelrehim and Verma, 2019) be expanded further?
What were the historical migration and importation of labour and its relevant trends in the above industries in the MENA region? For example, what were the historical trends of European immigration of Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards as well as Asian migration of Indian (e.g. Verma and Abdelrehim, 2017; Abderehim et al. 2018), Chinese and African migrants from other than the MENA region?
What were the effects of historical institutional changes and inventions such as for example, introduction of new transportation systems, such as steam navigation through rivers, land transport from the traditional camels and mules to motor/auto driven systems, building of roads, railways, telegraphs etc., on businesses in the MENA region?
How was international business or trade in the MENA region affected by historical finance, capital, organized banking, loans, mortgages and export-import regimes and trends?
How and to what extent was historical tribalism, indigenous culture and practices, landownership, etc., impacting and affecting businesses in the MENA region?