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Middle East and North Africa

Why supporting Small and Medium Enterprises in the Gulf is Different

Farrukh Iqbal's picture
Students trying their business inside Dubai Mall
Source: FlickR Creative Commons

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries differ from SMEs elsewhere in that they employ mostly expatriate workers and very few of their own nationals. How do we know this? We see it in the labor force statistics: The share of expatriates in the private sector labor force ranges from 80% to 98% in the six GCC countries— Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)— the lowest being in Oman and Bahrain, and the highest in Qatar and the UAE.   

Another Lasting Impact from Smartphones

Jim Yong Kim's picture



For a very long time, the rich have known to some extent how the poor around the world live. What’s new in today's world is that the best-kept secret from the poor, namely, how the rich live, is now out. Through the village television, the Internet and hand-held instruments, which a rapidly increasing number of the poor possess, life-styles of the rich and the middle class are transmitted in full color to their homes every day.

Last year, when I traveled with President Evo Morales to a Bolivian village 14,000 feet above sea level, villagers snapped pictures on their smartphones of our arrival. In Uttar Pradesh, the state in India with the highest number of poor people, I found Indians watching Korean soap operas on their smartphones.

We live in an unequal world. But while the rich world may be blind to the suffering of the poor, the poor throughout the world are very much aware of how the rich live. And they have shown they are willing to take action.

Education After the Spring Meetings: The Way Forward as a Global Practice

Simon Thacker's picture
adult literacy program for young Moroccan women

It’s the first class of an adult literacy program for young Moroccan women. Ghita comes to the front of the class, picks up a piece of chalk and carefully draws a line on the blackboard. It is the letter alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, one of the simplest to recognize and write: a single downward stroke.

Stimulating the conversation on Syria: From art to action?

Catherine Bond's picture

If images spark conversation, can a conversation spur action? Or more specifically, can a discussion about art and Syria’s economy the more than 100 prompt finance ministers attending the World Bank’s annual Spring Meetings in Washington to dig deeper into their pockets and give more humanitarian aid to Syria?

What will happen to the Middle East and North Africa region if the Ukraine crisis escalates?

Lili Mottaghi's picture
 Arne Hoel

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea after the popular voting in early March, the European Union and recently the U.S. and Canada have imposed their first round of sanctions—an asset freeze and travel ban on some officials in Russia and Crimea. This week NATO's foreign ministers, warning that Russian troops could invade the eastern part of Ukraine swiftly, ordered an end to civilian and military cooperation with Russia. Should the crisis escalate, potential fallout on Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries is likely. The effects would be transmitted directly through trade and indirectly through commodity prices.

Syrian Crisis: Seeing Conflict Through Art

Web Team's picture


After 3 years of war, themes of fragmentation, fatigue, and bloodshed all come across in the work of Syrian artists currently being exhibited at the World Bank.

Collectively, their paintings convey a sense of the internal turmoil caused by external violence, paintings that hint at conflict: the skeleton beneath the skin, a fractured womb, being caught in a trap like a fly, the scarlet gashes of torn flesh, and sinister handcuffs, to name a few subjects.

Join us April 9th, 2014, for the opening of the art exhibition featuring 35 paintings by 15 Syrian artists who were given the time and space to work at an artist residence in Lebanon.
Get a glimpse of the paintings here.

The Enemy Within: Tackling Schistosomiasis in Yemen

Alaa Hamed's picture
 Ministry of Public Health and Population, Republic of Yemen

In the unsettling horror movie Alien, an alien invades and hides within the human body, eventually causing great devastation. This is like the real story of the parasitic worm that, within minutes, invades the human body, using its forked tails to burrow into skin. Once inside the human body, it travels through the bloodstream and lives off its nutrients. 

Why are Direct Dividend Payments so Difficult in MENA?

Kevin Carey's picture

As a wave of newly resource-rich countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, looks to the best means of managing resource wealth, one compelling recommendation has come to the fore: to distribute at least some portion of resource revenues to the public through direct dividend payments (DDPs). The case is laid out in papers published at the Center for Global Development by Todd Moss and the World Bank’s Shanta Devarajan and Marcelo Giugale. The DDP proposal has several foundations. Payment technology has increased the feasibility of large-scale transfers, as Alan Gelb and Caroline Decker explain. There are already cases of developing countries scaling up identity card systems associated with cash transfers quite quickly. As for rationale, given the poor track record of public expenditure efficiency, especially in resource-rich countries, it seems clear that general welfare could be targeted more effectively through DDPs, and without any of the distortionary effects or distributional flaws of price subsidies. Finally, from a political economy perspective, DDPs coupled with taxation could restore the accountability of a government to its citizens, which is otherwise weakened by its ability to draw on revenues directly from the source.
 

In Lebanon, Time and Space for Syrian Artists to Paint

Raghad Mardini's picture
Art Residence in Aley, Lebanon

After the situation in Syria deteriorated, around October 2011, thousands of Syrians fled to Lebanon, among them many young emerging artists. With the difficult conditions and emotional trauma, artists had to take jobs in construction and in restaurants instead of creating art. Given the situation and my belief in the importance of art in hard times, the idea of an artists’ residence in the town of Aley, or the Art Residence in Aley (ARA), arose.

In a Beirut neighborhood, Syrian artists probe the cost of war

Paige Donnelly's picture
Fadi Al Hamwi

​Classical music welcomed me into Fadi Al Hamwi’s flat in the Gemmayze neighborhood of Beirut. His room was simple and distinctive. Instead of furniture occupying the space, he had lined it with art. Music swelled around us and half-finished, dramatic life-size paintings leaned against the walls. Fadi, a 27-year-old painter from the Syrian capital  of Damascus, had moved to Beirut almost two years ago. On the walls were a series of X-ray portraits, mostly of animals. He said his art explored the lack of humanity in the Syrian war, exposing men and woman stripped to the structure of their bones.

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