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Taking the Arab states as a case study, this paper addresses the water/food challenges facing the water-scarce region and the implications for the food economy. By accounting the volume of virtual water embedded in food imports into the countries concerned, a close relationship between water endowment and food import dependence is elaborated. The analysis also shows that although virtual water trade is ongoing in the region, it is yet to be considered as a policy option in planning and allocating water resources. It is further elaborated that considering virtual water as a policy option is often faced with scepticism and fear of economic or political control, and that regional cooperation can be the key to alleviating such fears. The culture of the Arab region constitutes an important element when discussing the need for change in current methods of planning to accommodate virtual water trade.

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