On June 1, 1972, Saddam Hussein led the process of expropriating Western oil companies, which had had a monopoly on the country's oil. A year later, world oil prices rose dramatically as a result of the 1973 world oil shock, and Saddam was able to pursue an all-the-more ambitious agenda through skyrocketing oil revenues.
Within a period of just a few years, the state provided some social services to Iraqi people unprecedented in other Middle Eastern countries. Saddam initiated and controlled the "National Campaign for the Eradication of Illiteracy" and the campaign for "Compulsory Free Education in Iraq," and largely under his auspices, the government established universal free schooling up to the highest education levels; hundreds of thousands learned to read in the years following the initiation of the program. The government also supported families of soldiers, granted free hospitalization to everyone, and gave subsidies to farmers. Iraq created one of the best public-health systems in the Middle East, earning Saddam an award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  
In order to diversify the oil-dependent economy, Saddam oversaw and advocated a national infrastructure campaign that made great progress in building roads, promoting mining, and development of other industries. The campaign effected a comprehensive revolution in energy industries. Electricity was brought to nearly every city in Iraq, including many communities in the countryside and far outlying areas.