The question of nepotism is in the minds of many people in the Arab world. Some are hopeful that change can be brought by the Arab Spring, but others are doubtful. In a series of blogs, I plan to look into some of the ways nepotism, favoritism and other ills have become ingrained in Arab society.
Labor and Social Protection
Twice a year, we put together an economic outlook for Middle East and North Africa as part of the economic analysis we do at the World Bank. Over the last two years, a series of political and financial shocks have made the regional economic trends and turning points that we are looking for in these reports difficult to identify.
While there have been positive development for beneficiaries of the pension system in Iraq, there are still challenges to improve services in Baghdad and across Iraq. It requires reforming the system to be responsive to the current and future needs of Iraq. Pensions systems are one of the most difficult areas in any country to reform and always involve a long term process fraught with political and technical challenges.
The very fact alone that this country and its people were in bondage for 42 years is unbelievable. The fact that the nation rose up against tyranny in spite of real danger, incredible losses and an uncertain outcome is a testimony to the courage and determination of a people to win their freedom. And the fact that the Libyan people, and especially its young men and women, hold such incredible optimism about the future, speaks to the indomitable spirit of a nation.
One day on a recent mission to Tripoli, Libya – after an early start and a hectic morning of meetings – I went with the World Bank’s Representative to a wonderful Turkish Restaurant in the heart of Tripoli to have lunch and to discuss the progress of the mission. As we were dinning, our waiter engaged in polite conversation with my Tunisian colleague in French.
The Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund held its second steering committee meeting in the Moroccan capital, Rabat last month. Four new grants were awarded at the meeting in support of the ongoing reform process in Morocco. Jonathan Walters, World Bank coordinator for the Transition Fund was in Rabat and provided us with some background on what the Fund hopes to achieve both in Morocco and the region.
Microwork presents a unique opportunity for jobs and income for sections of Palestinian society that face high levels of unemployment, such as youth and women. It is a new phenomenon in the digital economy: anyone anywhere can work through an online platform equipped with just a computer and internet access.
“If we are able to say that a poor, majority Muslim, and conservative society is capable of making a democracy of international standard, other countries in the region will have no excuse not to follow us,” says Amira Yahyaoui. “But Tunisia won’t succeed unless we continue to be bold. We must be audacious in our ambitions.”
For some, the Arab spring, so-called, has already turned into winter. History does not necessarily repeat itself though, but for what happens next in the Arab world to have any chance at being good, there is an urgent need for an Arab economic awakening. For without strong economic underpinnings, and without growth and quality employment for the millions of young Arab men and women who seek jobs and a decent life, the Arab democratic transition indeed faces a grim future.
I had never dreamed of getting the chance to pose a question to a president, but I got my chance a few months ago. In September 2012, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansur al-Hadi paid a visit to Washington DC. Having grown up in Yemen, I was intrigued by his arrival. And as a woman, I wanted to hear about his vision for women’s role in the new Yemen.