Ten years after the first publication on the Near East region, it appeared necessary to update the data and to identify the main changes in water use and irrigation that had occurred there. However, the countries forming the region in this publication are not to the same as the ones in the previous publication. While in the first publication the composition of the Near East region was determined by the countries covered by FAO’s Regional Office for the Near East, it was judged more logical to follow in AQUASTAT the regional distribution given in FAO’s Water Report 23 "Review of world water resources by country" (2003). It was also decided to call the region "Middle East" rather than "Near East", since Near East is considered to be a subregion of the Middle East.
The Middle East region has been grouped into four sub-regions, based on geographical and climatic homogeneity, which has a direct influence on irrigation. These sub-regions and the countries and territories they include are:
- Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
- Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.
- Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Near East: Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey.
The Arabian Peninsula and the Caucasus are identical to the sub-regions with these names in the previous reports, "Irrigation in the Near East Region in figures" (FAO, 1997) and "Irrigation in the countries of the Former Soviet Union in figures" (FAO, 1997) respectively, which allows for comparison with the earlier data. The Islamic Republic of Iran is considered separately because it has not a clear geographical, climatic or hydrologic homogeneity with any of the other three sub-regions. The Near East sub-region in this report is similar but not identical to the Middle East sub-region included in the previous report "Irrigation in the Near East Region in figures" (FAO, 1997): Cyprus and Malta have been removed from this sub-region, while Israel and the Palestine (including the West Bank and Gaza Strip) have been added.
This regional overview presents distinguishing features arising from the new data collected on a national scale for issues addressed in the eighteen country profiles and the four transboudary river basins in the region. The interest of this new survey lies in the updating of data and in the trends during the last ten years.