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Middle East and North Africa

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.

In Yemen: Less diesel, more roads?

Wael Zakout's picture
A rural road in Yemen -  Mohammed Al-Emad

In a conversation I had recently with the Minister of Public Works, the Minister proposed an ambitious program: to provide road access to one thousand Yemeni villages. He reckoned it would cost around US$1 billion. This was on top of something the Minister had already started, a project for an expressway to connect the cities of Aden, Taiz, Sana’a, Amran, and Saada to the Saudi Border. Financing for part of this other ambitious project had been secured from Saudi Arabia and the World Bank. We are working together to secure funding to finance the rest of the expressway.

Moving beyond street protests: Building social accountability in the Arab world

Line Zouhour's picture
Young man in the streets of Tripoli

At the heart of the upheavals that swept across the Middle East region during the Arab Spring was the call for more transparent, fair and accountable government. In the aftermath of the uprisings, specialists are left to address the issue of transition to democratic rule. In doing so, they have to answer the following questions: how can we systemize the culture of accountability and democratic governance? How can we channel the popular energy of street mobilization into a powerful institution that keeps duty-bearers in check?
 

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