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June 2012

The universal language of trade

Will Stebbins's picture
Also available in: Français
There was a brief moment of confusion at the opening of the ministerial workshop on regional trade in the Maghreb. Habib Ben Yahia, the secretary general of the Arab Maghreb Union, wondered out loud about which language he should use. Before him was a diverse audience that he could address in Arabic, French, English? What to choose?  Sitting next to him, the Moroccan minister of transport and equipment, Aziz Rabbah nailed it: ‘Speak the language of trade! ’

Part 2: Egypt’s “Botagas Story"

Vladislav Vucetic's picture
Also available in: العربية
My previous blog discussed the causes of the “botagas crisis” in Egypt. I argued that the root cause has been an indiscriminate subsidization of fuel consumption through below-cost pricing. This has mainly benefited affluent households, which has led to overconsumption, uneconomic investments, enormous and unsustainable fiscal cost (reported to be over 130 billion Egyptian pounds – or more than US$21 billion -- for the coming fiscal year), near-bankruptcy of fuel suppliers, and fuel supply shortages. I also argued that such policy has been neither socially just nor economically sound.

A view from Al-Muthanna: Iraq’s poorest province

Marie-Helene Bricknell's picture
Barbry Keller, Sr. Country Officer for Iraq, and I travelled to Al-Muthanna in May after a very interesting trip to Basrah. We left at dawn and travelled on a superb dual carriageway to Iraq’s poorest region.  Along the way, we witnessed first-hand the disastrous impact on the environment of Saddam’s retaliatory policies on the marshlands.  Drained marshes were evident on either side of the road. What was once fertile land is now a desert gray filled with countless plastic bags, burnt out wrecks of cars, tanks and some other undetermined debris with trickles of water evident here and there but nothing like the lush plains it must have once been.

The Arab World in 2030

Omer Karasapan's picture
World Bank | Arne HoelIn 2010, the European Commission undertook a pilot project to explore the possibility of establishing “an inter-institutional system identifying long-term trends in major policy issues facing the EU.” The pilot’s findings are included in Global Trends 2030: Citizens in an Interconnected and Polycentric World. The report identifies three major global trends: 1) The growing empowerment of individuals driven by a growing middle class; 2) Stronger human development trends but persistent challenges in inequality, climate change and resource scarcity; and 3) An increasingly polycentric world that is faced with governance gaps as interstate mechanisms fail to respond to global public goods.

From the outskirts of Basra...

Barbry Keller's picture
When Marie-Helene Bricknell, the World Bank’s Special Representative in Baghdad and I arrived on the outskirts of Basra, the largest city in Southern Iraq, my immediate impression was that I had landed in Mordor from Tolkien's Lord Of the Rings Trilogy.  The landscape was bleak with sand and dust, and the horizon was filled with black smoke and bright yellow flames from burning oil wells. On our first night, I went for a run in the compound (a former military base) and struggled to breathe in the dirty air. I wondered how ordinary Iraqis managed under these bleak conditions.

An inclusive approach to defining mitigation activities: Jordan shows a way forward

Lia Sieghart's picture
Also available in: العربية
Jordan has been looking for ways to transition to a low carbon economy. It recently took a novel approach toward identifying strategies relevant to its unique circumstances. To determine what would be compatible with the country’s current development context, an extensive consultation with all national stakeholders was undertaken. This bottom-up approach to designing and establishing low emission growth paths not only delivered concrete results, but could serve as an effective example for both the region and developing countries.