Proclaiming itself as "the reference source" for those seeking an understanding of world leaders, Profiles of Worldwide Government Leaders provides basic information on the backgrounds of the ministers and heads of state of 195 countries. The work relies on information from both official responses (provided by ministries and embassies) and from a worldwide network of correspondents. One may question whether the volume fulfills its stated mission of "keeping up with who's who among government leaders" when it excludes all members of legislative bodies, opposition groups, and the military. For observers of the Middle East, this compilation's value may be further limited due to the incompleteness of the entries for most countries of the region: only in the case of Israel and Saudi Arabia do the listings contain details about every official named. Syria's entry lacks information on 21 out of the 35 ministers identified; Turkey's lacks it on 16 out of 21 ministers.
Still, some interesting profiles of leaders in the Middle East do emerge. Few of them have experience in the private business world. Cabinet officers took their higher education around the world, mostly in America, Britain, France, and Egypt; only one of them received a degree from the Soviet Union. Israel and Iraq share a pattern: almost all leaders emerged from political parties or the military. Saudi Arabia's rulers began either in the academy or in the kingdom's bureaucracy.
For those concerned about the level of education achieved by the region's absolute dictators, the news may not be so good. Saddam Husayn studied law briefly in Cairo but failed to complete a degree. Hafiz al-Asad received but a secondary school diploma. Mu`ammar al-Qadhdhafi was expelled from school for "political activities."