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Is MENA’s job problem about economic growth or employment creation?

Elena Ianchovichina's picture
Also available in: Français

One of the key and long-lasting concerns across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been job creation. With the Arab spring events, this issue has moved to the top of the development policy agenda in most countries in the region. And the media has been reporting personal stories of hardships faced by people, especially young ones, trying to find jobs that match their aspirations, in some cases, qualifications, and enable them to launch their lives and start families. There is little doubt that the region needs more jobs.

Respectful, open, tuned in: the challenges of wise support to Arab Spring

Inger Andersen's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية

This is the first week of my professional return to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Until last Friday I held the job of Vice President of the Sustainable Development network at the World Bank, a truly rich and fulfilling engagement in a range of global enterprises from agriculture, to infrastructure, to climate change.  I feel honored to assume the new role of MNA VP at this extraordinary time in the region’s history. Many eyes are on us and much will be expected. As history unfolds before us, in the Arab Spring, in the uprisings, in the revolutions, I have reflected much on what this will mean and where it will take us.  I remain filled with optimism as people across the region have, in their own heartfelt formulation, “taken back their dignity”

Towards a new social contract in the Arab World: global lessons in citizen voice & accountability

Esther Lee Rosen's picture

In the spirit and calls for greater accountability and transparency, the World Bank is hosting a discussion bringing together high-level decision makers and civil society representatives from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. They will exchange knowledge and reflect on the experiences of experts from Indonesia, Turkey and Philippines, who will share the work that have supported the development of social accountability during critical transition periods.

Protecting human dignity through women's economic empowerment

Guest Blogger's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

She stared at the money in her palm for a long time while tears slowly trickled down her face. After a long silence Hana, a 19 year old Yemeni woman spoke, “This is the first money I have ever held in my hand that is mine.” “How do you feel?” asked the director of the women’s shelter where Hana had been living in for the past four months. As if reborn and with an empowered voice, she replied, “Strong.” The story of Hana is one example of the barriers faced by Yemeni women. Born into a violent environment where her vicious father abused women, Hana lived her childhood believing that she was worthless.

Thinking equal in the Middle East & North Africa

Tara Vishwanath's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية

World over, many aspects of gender inequality continue to persist. Women face higher risks of death at birth and throughout their life cycle. Women are under-represented in schools, jobs, boardrooms and parliaments. Women continue to earn less than equally qualified men. In many cases, women have less power to make decisions and choices about their lives even within their homes. Many of these persistent gender gaps are still evident even in the developed world. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is little difference between girls and boys in education or health outcomes.

Building for growth, not elites

Caroline Freund's picture
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The media is widely reporting the discovery of a labyrinth of air-conditioned tunnels under the Gadhafi complex. By the time Saddam Hussein was removed from power, he had built close to 80 palaces in Iraq, with his initials carved into their walls, columns and ceilings. This is of course not unique to the region. Ceausescu’s House of the Republic remains the world’s second largest building, with over 1000 rooms and nearly 500 crystal chandeliers.These extravagant structures highlight why infrastructure investments are often not growth enhancing in the absence of good governance.  Without transparency and accountability, questionable spending goes unpunished.

Nourishing the hopes of millions of Egyptians

Aida Haddad's picture

The story of Ghalia Mahmoud published in the August 17th edition of the Washington Post took me by surprise. I had hardly finished the article when questions began to fill my head and my heart started to flutter with excitement.  Was it because Ghalia, previously a maid, had  succeeded in becoming a TV host? Or was it that the Washington Post was interested in telling her story, deeming it worthy of publishing? Or was it tied to my glimpse of the World Bank report on Food Price Watch a few days earlier? It reported that the high level of global food prices and continued price volatility, posed a constant threat to the poorest segments of the population in developing countries.

Every day is international youth day

Guest Blogger's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

From different corners of the world, youth have been celebrating this particular year in an unexpected way. In this International Year of Youth, I reflect on the events shaped by and for youth. To me, to all the young people in my country and my region, International Youth Day means simply nothing; because this year, we made every day a celebration of youth expression, power, and liberation.

Online censorship: now trending

Guest Blogger's picture
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The filtering (blocking) of websites was once assumed by many to be something conducted by the most authoritarian of regimes.  But while we’ve all heard of China’s Great Firewall--that imaginary wall that divides the Chinese-hosted Internet from the rest of the world’s sites, allowing for the government to easily block anything that doesn’t pass muster--China is only one of dozens of countries that censors the Internet. Across the board, the Middle East and North Africa rank poorly as a region.  While some countries--such as the UAE, Kuwait, and Oman--mainly target “offensive” or “inappropriate” content, caught up in their filters are various social networking websites.

A half empty glass

Jean-Pierre Chauffour's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية

Have the Arab revolutions definitively rebuked the so-called Arab exceptionalism—the notion that Arab nations would somehow be immune to economic modernization and democratization? After the massive popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other parts of the Arab world, it would be tempting to say yes. Far from any exceptionalism, what the Arab streets are demanding is what everyone reaching a minimum standard of living eventually demands: dignity and freedom.  This call for dignity has been a major departure from the post-independence Arab social contract made of subsidies, public employment, and various rents and privileges at the price of freedom. To use an economic terminology, the Arab revolutions happened because the “exchange rate” between entitlement and freedom became unsustainable and had to be corrected. “Dignity before bread” was the slogan of the Jasmine revolution.