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How the Middle East and North Africa can benefit from low oil prices

Shanta Devarajan's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
AlexLMX l Shutterstock

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a region of extremes. It has the highest unemployment rate in the developing world, with the rate for women and young people double the average. MENA economies are among the least diversified, with the Herfindahl index—a measure of the concentration of exports in a few commodities—ranging between 0.6 and 1 for most countries. The region had the highest number of electricity cuts per month. The ratio of public- to private-sector workers is the highest in the world.  While, until recently, the region had been averaging 4-5 percent GDP growth, that average masked a highly volatile growth path.

Jordanian venture aims to use technology to empower refugees

Christine Petré's picture
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Loay Malahmeh, a co-founder of 3D Mena

The organization Refugee Open Ware is on a mission to empower refugees by giving them access to new technologies, such as 3D-printing. “We want to raise awareness about what 3D-printing can do,” explains Loay Malahmeh, a co-founder of the Jordanian company, 3D Mena and a partner in Refugee Open Ware. “How it can not only solve real problems, but also unleash immense, untapped potential.”

Addressing the education emergency in Lebanon

Noah Yarrow's picture
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Mohamed Azakir l World Bank

The education system in Syria is a victim of the country’s conflict; Syrian teachers and students have been displaced, along with their families, and many Syrian refugee children have now been out of school for multiple years. Of the approximately 340,000 Syrians ages 6 to 17 who are registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon, about 45% are in Lebanese public schools, with additional numbers in private, semi-private and non-formal instruction. 

Yemen: so critically short of water in war that children are dying fetching it

Farouk Al-Kamali's picture
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Oleg Znamenskiy l Shutterstock.com

Before the ongoing war, Yemen was already among those countries facing the most serious water shortages: experts warned that its groundwater would be depleted by 2017. The war has greatly exacerbated the situation as, along with instability, the absence of government, and spread of armed conflicts, the arbitrary pumping of groundwater has increased while government utilities like water supplies have collapsed.

The Impact of Syrian Businesses in Turkey

Omer Karasapan's picture
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Istanbul, Turkey - Creatista l Shutterstock.com

In Turkey, as in other countries, refugees are often seen as an unmitigated burden, taking jobs from locals, straining public resources, and stoking fears of rising crime and terrorism. Clearly there are significant costs and risks shouldered by host countries, but there is another side to the story—the contributions made by refugees as they bring new businesses, markets, and skills to their host communities. To the extent that countries focus on an enabling business environment and a modicum of protection for refugees working illegally, the positive side of the ledger can only grow.

Arab women’s autumn— What was there for women after the Arab Spring?

Ibtissam Alaoui's picture
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Moroccan Woman protesting - Arne Hoel l World Bank

The political participation of Arab women in post-revolutionary Arab countries has been the subject of various studies and academic research. The 2011 revolutions marked a significant shift in the female political role in the region because women were involved at the head of the Arab uprisings. The revolutions, which were initially secular and egalitarian, also unleashed long-repressed conservative forces, which have been eating in to the gains made by Arab feminists over the past decades.

Despite high education levels, Arab women still don’t have jobs

Maha El-Swais's picture
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Thirteen of the 15 countries with the lowest rates of women participating in their labor force are in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Report (2015). Yemen has the lowest rate of working women of all, followed by Syria, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Turkey.

Women in Djibouti make money weaving grass and pearls into baskets, belts

Roger Fillion's picture
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Heimo Liendl l Creative Commons

Walk into Zahra Youssouf Kayad’s office and you’ll see colorful local artwork on the walls. One picture depicts a woman making straw brooms. “Whenever I go to other parts of the country, I ask to see the local crafts,” says Ms. Kayad, who is Djibouti’s Minister of Social Solidarity. The ministry oversees Djibouti’s fight against poverty.

The two faces of the sea

Caroline Ayoub's picture
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“The Mirror”, Artwork by Syrian Filmmaker & Visual Artist Ammar Al-Beik, 140x110cm, "Lost Images Series", 2013.

For the past five years, the sea – a small three letter word– has delivered more than its share of pain to Syrians. But two Syrian women, ‘Om Mohammed’ and ‘Om Issa,’ had not planned for this fateful encounter with the water. Om Mohammad was fleeing the inferno of barrel bombs that were dropped on Darayya, a suburb of Damascus. Meanwhile Om Issa was fleeing her homeland to protect her son after government security services began tracking him in order to force him to serve in the regime’s military.
 
There is no place left in the country for mothers or their sons.

How to open the doors for more women to work in Jordan

Nadine Nimri's picture
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Jorgen Mclemanl Shutterstock

Jordan is at the bottom of the list when it comes to women’s economic participation, ranking 139 out of 142 countries. Gender activists say Jordan’s legislation, unfriendly work practices, and local customs are the reasons for this low ranking.

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