When I arrived in Tunis almost a year ago, one of my colleagues at the World Bank office tried to explain to me how the rules in effect had made it impossible to export high-quality olive oil. I found it difficult to understand what she was saying, as it seemed to me that the export of high value-added products should be a major goal for the country. However, to date, the problem persists ...
Middle East and North Africa
Also available in: Français
Also available in: Français
Watching party activists pass out election leaflets in Bizerte on Labor Day gave me the first tangible feel that local elections were coming, in an otherwise quite understated campaign. While some may feel disappointed about the relatively low-key process, and even more so with voter turnout, sometimes ‘understated’ is also a good thing: the sense that local elections in Tunisia, the first one since 2011, can be a ‘normal’ political occurrence in a context where democracy is evolving.
In October 2017, I departed on vacation from Amman to Yemen. When I arrived in Aden, my hometown, Aden received me with its sunny and hot weather that melted the icy coating around my intense longing to see the city again and the pain of being away from my family and beloved country for over two and a half years.
Continuing the dialogue and peer-to-peer exchange on the benefits and challenges to fiscal transparency is essential to sustaining the momentum for reform. The time for action is now — the Arab world has a chance to go from lagging to leading on fiscal transparency.
Leaving university with a business degree back in 2010, my dream was to wow the business world with my enthusiasm and be the number one businesswoman in Yemen. Little did I know, within a year of working in the business sector, that my passion is not to make rich people richer nor to gain the title "number one businesswoman". My REAL passion in life is to be an influencer and a person who makes real positive impact in people's lives. Realizing that, I started to become a dedicated and aggressively motivated person who fights for economic and social empowerment in Yemen. Right there, I shifted my career focus and objectives from making an empire of my own to making it possible for people with potential, but fewer opportunities in life, to build their idea of an empire.
The conflict in Yemen, raging since early 2015, has had a devastating impact on the country’s infrastructure. Saana, the largest city in Yemen with a population of almost 2 million people, is completely without public electricity. In fact, six out of the 10 cities surveyed in mid-2017 by the World Bank, as part of the Yemen Dynamic Damage and Needs Assessment Phase II (DNA), had zero access to public electricity, with the remaining four cities having only a few hours of electricity per day.
Our team at the MENA Youth Platform recently had a conversation about women-and youth-led entrepreneurship in the MENA region, and for which emerging trends to look for. One thing is very clear: the next revolution could look very different.
Egypt is a market of more than 100 million people and full of opportunities for the trained entrepreneurial eye. Like many developing nations, Egypt seems to have a struggling job market, but many see this as a blessing in disguise. In a country where millions are looking for jobs, there are also millions who give up on the search and create their own opportunities. This might seem far-fetched, but the reality is that poor people in developing nations are extremely entrepreneurial – probably even more so than in developed countries. Professor Ha-Joon Chang captured this fact in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.
One of the best decisions in my life was to reject a job offer from a big corporation and embark on an entrepreneurial start-up journey. Indeed, the journey has been tough and there were, and still are, bumpy roads, but the rising entrepreneurial spirit across the country has been extremely uplifting. I have been in the Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem for the past few years and I consider myself well connected and quite informed about everything that has been happening. But I can say with confidence that what the country has been seeing in the past few years is very promising and inspires us to do more.
About a decade ago, we started a project to improve solid waste management for waste pickers like Ibrahim and the 840,000 people in the southern West Bank governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron. One of the project components included the closure of the Yatta dumpsite, where illegally dumped and burned household waste was reaching a very unsanitary and hazardous level.
But here came the challenge.
While the closure of the dumpsite would mean putting an end to a serious environmental and public health problem, it was terrible news for the waste pickers and their families. It meant that the livelihoods of those families would come to an end.
According to a World Bank study, the current violence in the Middle East and North Africa Region led to fifteen million people fleeing their homes, giving rise to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Many sought refuge in neighboring countries that are economically fragile, further complicating the tragedy. Women and children bear the brunt of war and this is what Helen Zughaib aimed to capture in her paintings.
The World Bank Art Program, in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region, organized an exhibition of the works of artist Helen Zughaib, titled: The Arab Spring/Unfinished Journeys, that were on view in the main building of the World Bank’s Washington headquarters from January 18 to February 16. The theme of Helen’s work depicts the sense of hope and dignity that prevailed when the Arab Spring began, only to dissipate soon after with the horrors of war and forced migration.