Middle East and North Africa
Remittances to developing countries decreased by 2.4 percent to an estimated $429 billion in 2016. This is the second consecutive year that remittances have declined. Such a trend has not been seen in the last 30 years. Even during the global financial crisis, remittances contracted only during 2009, bouncing back in the following year.
MENA has always had low private investment both domestic and foreign. However, the political and economic unrests post the ‘Arab Spring’ raised the necessity of a dynamic and growing private sector than ever before. The dominant economic role of the public sector in MENA cannot endure, especially with the escalating unemployment rates, budget deficits, heavy dependence on food and manufactured imports, vulnerability to oil and foreign currency swings besides the challenging social and political environments.
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In 1964, I came to the United States from South Korea, then an extremely poor developing country that most experts, including those at the World Bank, had written off as having little hope for economic growth.
My family moved to Texas, and later to Iowa. I was just 5 years old when we arrived, and my brother, sister, and I spoke no English. Most of our neighbors and classmates had never seen an Asian before. I felt like a resident alien in every sense of the term.
Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of migrants in the Gulf region. The country is the second largest remittance sender after the USA. A new Saudization program since 2011, the so-called “Nitaqat program”, seeks to increase the number of Saudi nationals employed in the private sector. Will this have an impact on migrants and remittance outflows from Saudi Arabia?
The rise of early Nile basin civilizations can be traced back to one of the most significant climatic changes of the last 11,000 years, a period of protracted hyperaridity that led not only to North Africa’s deserts we know today, but also to a multi-generational exodus depicted in much Saharan rupestrian art.