“We are not geniuses. We just use common sense.” For CEO and co-founder Ahmed Zahran of Karm Solar Egypt, a company that aims to commercialize solar technologies, it’s not about being a visionary. It is about good business. Ahmed and other young entrepreneurs and business leaders discussed the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the region.
As the Arab Spring swept through the region, Iraq was at war and fighting a homegrown insurgency. Since the war’s end, Iraq has had to pick up the pieces and come to terms with its sanctions and bloody sectarian conflict. How Iraq addresses these challenges in the medium term will have a long-term effect on its stability and development.
An analysis of the quality of growth, and more specifically of the dynamics of the private sector is necessary to understand a region’s underperformance in job creation. While many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region had periods of solid growth over the past decade, they all underperformed in job creation. This is because the quality of growth matters as much as the quantity.
On October 8, President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree pardoning all "Arab Spring" political prisoners. While the decree, if implemented, marks a milestone in Egypt’s hard-fought 21-month-long revolution, the quotient of inequality that contributed to setting it off still remains. From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, inequality has risen to the top of social agenda.
I finally had a chance to look over the latest Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013), an annual publication of the World Economic Forum and I thought it would be interesting to see how the participating Arab countries were doing. So, what do these rankings actually mean and how did the Arab countries do? Well, as in all things, it varies by country and groupings of countries.
The World Bank’s database Global Findex estimates that more than 2.5 billion people from around the world lack access to formal financial institutions, with the largest concentrations in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). This places the poor at a disadvantage, and significantly limits their ability to smooth their expenditures and engage in productive economic activity, particularly at a level and capacity sufficient to lift them out of poverty.
Yemen is currently engaged in a national dialogue. It is a vital phase of the reconciliation process launched in the aftermath of last year’s crisis. A political agreement was reached, sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council and supported by the international community, which included a commitment to reform the structure of the state to address long standing political fault lines between the north and the south, and regional grievances over the concentration of power in the capital, Sana’a.
Over the course of our research we have encountered a number of explanations for the difficulties people face in finding jobs in the Middle East and North Africa region. Some contend that there are simply no jobs, while others that they don’t have the qualifications for the jobs that are available, and still others feel that they do not have the means or tools at their disposal to find potential jobs, a situation that economists refer to as, “poor labor market intermediation.”
This weekend, as I packed my suitcase for Beirut, I thought of the warm and welcoming people I’ll be working with over the next two weeks. This is my fourth visit to Lebanon this year, and each one has provided me with a different glimpse into Lebanese politics and society. It has helped me to understand the aspirations of some of the country’s citizens and the constraints faced by its policymakers.
There is more to unemployment than the simple fact of not having a job. It brings with it a whole set of additional difficulties, and on a large scale can have far reaching social consequences. This is especially true for young people struggling with a lack of stable employment and weak prospects for landing any permanent work. Jobs are an important source of social identity, and without one, young people can be cast adrift.