Syndicate content

Middle East and North Africa

Middle-class dynamics and the Arab Spring

Elena Ianchovichina's picture
Cairo's Tahrir Square, Egypt - Hang Dinh|Shutterstock.com

What do middle-class dynamics in the 2000s tell us about the Arab Spring events? In modern economies, the middle class not only bolsters demand for private goods and services, but also insists on good governance and public services, such as education, health, and infrastructure. Investments in these areas improve the capacity of the economy to grow not only more rapidly, but also sustainably and inclusively. Therefore, understanding how the middle class fares in the Arab world is of crucial importance.

The way out of poverty and corruption is paved with good governance

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture

Woman speaks to World Bank MD and COO Sri Mulyani Indrawati in the Nyabithu District of Rwanda. © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

For the first time in history, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen below 10%. The world has never been as ambitious about development as it is today. After adopting the Sustainable Development Goals and signing the Paris climate deal at the end of 2015, the global community is now looking into the best and most effective ways of reaching these milestones. In this five-part series I will discuss what the World Bank Group is doing and what we are planning to do in key areas that are critical for ending poverty by 2030: good governance, gender equality, conflict and fragility, creating jobs, and, finally, preventing and adapting to climate change.


Twenty years ago, the World Bank took up the fight against corruption as an integral part of reducing poverty, hunger, and disease. The decision was groundbreaking then and remains valid today. Corruption diverts resources from the poor to the rich, leads to a culture of bribes, and distorts public expenditures, deterring foreign investors and hampering economic growth.

Oil price impact is felt beyond borders

Donna Barne's picture

Oil pumps in southern Russia © Gennadiy Kolodkin/World Bank

Two recently released World Bank reports — one on commodities and the other on remittances — lend insight into an unfolding dynamic in the world today. As oil prices dropped from more than $100 per barrel in June 2014 to as low as $27 in the last few months, the money sent home from people working abroad in oil-producing countries also fell. This drop is a major reason remittances to developing countries declined in 2015 to their lowest growth rate since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Terrorism makes stability more important to Arab youth than democracy

Christine Petré's picture


Young Arabs express the same concern over the rise of the Islamic State (IS) as young people do elsewhere, the annual Arab Youth Survey reveals. For the second year in a row, the “rise of” IS militants is perceived as the main problem facing the region, with four in every five young people interviewed saying they were more concerned about it than other problems. Its public appeal may have also decreased slightly, findings in the survey suggest.

Can North Africa leapfrog together in work and welfare?

Heba Elgazzar's picture
Dana Smilie

It was December 8, 2010, when I boarded a plane after a routine trip to Tunisia.  There was nothing out of the ordinary that would have provided a clue as to the dramatic upheaval to come.   The taxi drivers rarely spoke of politics, poverty was an untouchable topic of conversation, and YouTube was blocked.  However, over the course of that winter, uprisings erupted throughout Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and beyond that called for greater social justice.  Investment policies had privileged elites for too long. Social and labor policies had not been that effective at promoting inclusiveness.   Each country has since struggled to maintain political stability while addressing demands for improving work and welfare, with mixed results. 

Reforms that Kuwaiti and DC schools have in common

Simon Thacker's picture
 Maryam Abdullah/World Bank

Garfield Elementary School is in one of Washington, DC’s, poorest neighborhoods and, four years ago, it ranked as one of the least effective schools in the city. “It was a noisy place, more like a summer camp,” explains the current principal, Kennard Branch, “the kids went out on a field trip almost every other day.”

Unlocking innovation in the Middle East through financial inclusion

Simon Bell's picture


I recently attended an SME Conference in Jordan around SME Finance and Employment – extremely important issues in a troubled region.  All participants agree that much more needs to be done to address the lack of jobs in the region and to increase financial access at all levels, to individuals, households and small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

The Middle East remains the most financially excluded region in the world despite being a middle income region.

Only 4% of unbanked adults in the Middle East say that they don’t have an account because they don't need one. In other words, it is clear there is widespread unmet demand for financial services.

A person living in the Middle East is less likely to have a bank account than is a low-income person living in Africa or South Asia, and significantly less likely than a person living in Latin America, Eastern Europe or East Asia from comparable middle income country or region. This poses a dilemma – why?

Young Tunisian entrepreneurs push to change attitudes to jobs

Christine Petré's picture
Young entrepreneurs - Courtesy of Christine Petre

“There’s no weekend for an entrepreneur,” said 24-year-old Hamdy Ben Salah with a smile, when we met on a sunny Saturday morning at his home-based office, where Elyes Labidi and Boulabiar Marwen—two of his five colleagues—were already sitting in front of their computers. The small room they sit in used to be kept for household garbage. But, with furniture and some paint, today it is the base of AlphaLab.

Tunisia and Italy shine light on how regional electricity trade can help stabilize the region

Sameh Mobarek's picture
 Anton Balazh l Shutterstock/NASA

The Middle East and North Africa region has never faced such significant stress on its ageing infrastructure like it does today, with one of the most telling being the substantial increase in the need for electricity.  It is estimated that electricity demand in the MENA region will increase by 84% by 2020, requiring an additional 135 GW of generation capacity and an investment of US$450 billion.  The quest for new approaches to ensure adequate and reliable supply of electricity in the region is more urgent than ever before.

Pages