The Arab Spring nations, such as Egypt and Syria, have struggled with food security:
The food import dependence and lack of foreign exchange is all the more worrying as the global food crisis of 2008 [seen above] has shown a diminished reliability of global food markets. Not only did prices skyrocket, some agricultural exporters like Argentina, Russia, and Vietnam announced export restrictions out of concern for their own food security. Naturally this sent shock waves through the Middle East, which imports a third of globally traded cereals.
The oil rich Gulf countries reacted by announcing investments in farmland abroad to secure privileged bilateral access to food production. Only a fraction of these investments has gotten off the ground, yet they have been controversial as they have been mostly announced in developing countries like Sudan or Pakistan that have severe food security issues themselves.
Lily Kuo has more details on the buying of foreign farm land:
Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, the US and other countries have been buying up foreign farmland, especially after the global food price spike of 2007 to 2008 that spurred global riots. According to a report last year by the nonprofit Grain, the main target of these purchases has been Africa but also Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. Between 0.7% and 1.75% of the world’s farmland is being transferred from locals to foreign investors, another study in January found.
(Chart via The American Security Project)