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Globalization may continue to be faster in deserts than elsewhere (Box 5.1), but it is also countered by rising oil prices, increasingly restricted migration, nationalism, and cultural separation. In some senses, the deserts are less globalized now than half a century ago: most were once colonial, few now are. Deserts on the tourist maps of the 1970s, as in Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iran, are now less accessible, although others like Central Asia, have re-opened. The balance of oil investment is also shifting away from deserts. The impact of globalization, where it happens, will be benign here and malign there, as before. The benign impacts include freedom to seek work, attract tourists, and benefit from medical advances and new ideas.

Inequity is a malign outcome of globalization, although it has many other roots. The outlook for equity is murky, and this should prompt concern: inequity is a powerful force for change, perhaps now expressing itself through terrorism. It is true that some remittances are invested constructively back home, as in dry parts of Kenya (Tiffen and others 1993), but remittances are unreliable, and after all, depend on inequity. Globalization counters equity in many other ways. The rich use their gains from globalization to buy off political and economic processes and remove autonomy from the poor. The overall balance between the negatives and the positives in globalization, even its strength, is debatable (Hirst and Thompson 1999).


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