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Transitions can be good for growth

Caroline Freund's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Many of the Middle East and North African countries are embarking on transitions with the goal of developing more open and accountable governments.  Like the East Europeans and others before them, they will face challenges in the short run, as business is disrupted and investors wait for uncertainty to be resolved.  Evidence from 47 recent transitions shows that growth declines by about 3-4 percentage points, on average, during such transitions.  The good news is the decline tends to be short lived, with the dip lasting only one year and growth then resuming or exceeding pre-transition levels.

Let’s keep an eye out for social entrepreneurs and innovators

May Wazzan's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

While most of us working on development issues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, will probably know at least a couple of examples of renowned social enterprises or ventures in the region, I am not sure we have all truly come to know the real magnitude and potential impact of this sector in general.  Looking through the pretty widespread literature and case studies on social entrepreneurship, MENA is sadly under-represented. Why, one wonders.

Social media in MENA: connecting groups, strengthening the “I”

Guest Blogger's picture
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Khaled Said was not the first Egyptian whom police allegedly beat to death. But his death sparked a virtual revolution that in retrospect was a perfect rehearsal for the real revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule in 18 days. Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian businessman, was brutally beaten, his family and activists say, by two plainclothes police officers in June 2010. An Interior Ministry autopsy claimed that he suffocated after swallowing a bag of drugs. But a photograph of a shattered body, his family confirmed was his, started circulating online. His family said he was targeted after posting a video online allegedly showing police sharing profits of a drug bust.

Data for development

Caroline Freund's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
In places around the world where health systems are working as they should, newborn babies are immediately weighed and measured. Then growth is recorded frequently in the first year, and continues to be measured annually thereafter. The purpose is to identify potential problems before they become serious for the infant. And of course it's not just babies who merit careful measurement and monitoring.

Great expectations – short term measures for employment and safety nets

Steen Jorgensen's picture
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With the Arab spring bringing into sharper focus the long-standing challenges of inequality and unemployment in the Arab world, the question is what to do. It is clear that in the medium term only a dynamic market-based economy can generate good jobs for the unemployed and, importantly, the underemployed. It might seem tempting in the face of popular pressures to expand the public sectors further, but it is not feasible and not desirable. That said: "In the medium term we are all dead" (this was a famous Keynes statement and he actually said it about that favorite economist phrase "in the long run" but it suits me here).

The real cost of food on the table

Julian Lampietti's picture
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Among the saddest iconic stories to come out of MENA’s rapidly changing political landscape was the first: the dramatic self-immolation of a fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, and how his act was a response to government officials trying to confiscate the fruit he was selling, taking away from this young man the sole means he had found to support his family.

“You've woken up now, don't go back to sleep!”

Guest Blogger's picture
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The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have celebrated the values of freedom, justice and human dignity. They have reignited hope in the ability of communities to work together to bring change. They encourage taking risk coupled with a learning spirit.

The challenge now is to sustain citizen engagement and grow the culture of holding each other accountable. Community action cannot be from revolution to revolution. I love how one of Egypt's Shabab AlThawra said to his people: “Now that you have woken up, don’t go back to sleep”. The other challenge is to make sure that the energy does not become manipulated by various players with contradicting values or derailed by certain media stunts.

People change the destiny of nations

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People change the destiny of nationsThe Arab world is all too often in the headlines for geo-political tensions and cross border conflicts. Today it is in the grip of a peoples' uprising that is demanding change in political regimes, respect for citizens' rights, governance and quality of life. 

The breadth and force of this peoples' voice has caught the world and the most politically astute of analysts by surprise. The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia lent confidence in turn to regime change in Egypt, the largest population in the region. These events have been further motivation across the Middle East and North Africa.

Will people power empower women?

Nadereh Chamlou's picture
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Will people power empower women?The democratic movements sprouting all over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are arousing high optimism for greater voice and inclusiveness. Democracies are about sharing power, and about reflecting the will of the people through peaceful processes at the ballot box.  But, will the will of the people and people power usher in greater gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly as women fought shoulder to shoulder with men for change?

The Arab openness revolution – Can the World Bank keep up?

Steen Jorgensen's picture
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The Arab world was a center of intellectual fervor and scientific discovery when my forefathers in Northern Europe were a rather backward people raiding neighbors and toiling for the King.  Over time the tables turned and the last several decades in the Arab world were a period of political control, few basic freedoms and widespread exclusion. 

Meanwhile people in other parts of the world enjoyed increasing freedoms and an information and media revolution making information accessible to more and more people. Now, almost overnight, millions of Arab citizens have joined this global table of exchange and openness.  Twitters, facebook posts and blogs are buzzing around the Arab world with new-found freedom and excitement. 

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