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Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa cannot miss the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Ferid Belhaj's picture

The traditional route of industrialization for developing countries may no longer be available for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This should not be a source of regret, as the aspirations of the region’s young and well-educated population extend far beyond auto assembly lines. Furthermore, the repetitive work of an assembly line will increasingly be performed by machines rather than people. The rapid pace of technological change that is propelling this process, dubbed the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," offers new opportunities for developing countries. Opportunities the MENA region cannot afford to miss. 

Lessons from the West Bank’s first PPP: Fragile state + open mind

Malak Draz's picture


“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old,”—good advice from innovation and management guru Peter F. Drucker. This approach was key to a PPP we coordinated in one of the world’s oldest areas, the West Bank.
 

Forced Displacement: How does it impact host communities?

Paolo Verme's picture
Syrian refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, located 10 km east of Mafraq, Jordan on March 27, 2016. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


As millions of refugees from the Syrian and other crises try to build new lives in countries that will accept them, the host governments still grapple to find an evidence-based response to the question: what foreseeable impact will the refugees have on our citizens’ lives?

Invest in women to boost growth in MENA

Lili Mottaghi's picture

Only one in five working-age women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a job or is actively looking for one. Currently, women make up only 21% of the labor force and only contribute 18% to MENA’s overall GDP. Had the gender gap in labor force participation been narrowed over the past decade, the GDP growth rate in MENA could have doubled or increased by about US$1 trillion in cumulative output. Instead, the current gender gap in the traditional labor market has extended to the rest of the economy, including the technology sector, impacting women’s access to, and use of, digital services. Women are 9% less likely to own a mobile phone and 21% less likely than men to use mobile internet. 

Disasters due to natural hazards are just the tip of the iceberg in MENA cities

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Resilience is increasingly recognized as a key attribute of an effective urban system. Discussions on resilience often center around disasters caused by natural hazards. However, cities are increasingly exposed to multiple shocks and stresses beyond disasters. Cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are no different and are equally if not more vulnerable to a large set of shocks.

Powering industry and jobs in Gaza through rooftop solar

Layali H. Abdeen's picture



Gaza is one of the most fragile places in the world. Its 2 million people have lived under a blockade since 2007. Crammed within an area of only 365 square kilometers—about the size of Philadelphia—its mostly young and educated population has few economic opportunities, with unemployment topping 50 percent. As GDP per capita falls, more than half of its people have sunk below the poverty line, with few opportunities for prosperity. Only donor support is keeping the economy afloat.

In addition to that, Gaza is constrained by limited access to power—with only four hours per day of electricity. That creates a huge burden to ordinary people, who are forced to plan around the power schedule. But the lack of power is also crushing the life out of the manufacturing sector, which previously served as a major source of employment in Gaza. So, can we in the international development community do something to address this problem?
 

Moving towards gender equality: A new index looks at legal reforms to help women’s economic inclusion

Sarah Iqbal's picture

Do you think the world is becoming more equal for women at work? The recently published Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform gives us some insight. While achieving gender equality requires a broad range of efforts over time, the study focuses on the law as an important first step to providing an objective measure of how specific regulations affect women’s incentives to participate in economic activity.

What is captured in the Women, Business and the Law index?

The study introduces a new index structured around eight indicators that cover different stages of a woman’s working life, which have significant implications for the economic standing of women: Going Places, Starting a Job, Getting Paid, Getting Married, Having Children, Running a Business, Managing Assets and Getting a Pension.

8 Indicators that Measure How Laws Affect Women Through Their Working Lives

Source: Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform

For instance, if a woman cannot leave her home without permission can she effectively look for a job or go on an interview? Even if she is hired, will she need to quit if she gets married or has children? Will she have to move to a lower paying job because she must balance work with caring for her family?

Creating the second largest regional electricity market in the world

Waleed Alsuraih's picture


RecondOil | Flickr

Regional trade in electricity and other energy products can be a powerful force for market integration and sustainable development. In the Arab world, there are great potential benefits from increasing electricity trade beyond its current, very low level. The potential shared value of trade in electricity in 2020–2030 is estimated at $12 billion. We can expect even greater savings, about $44 billion, from more optimal power systems operation, with a major role for gas as the main fuel for power generation, displacing expensive liquid fuels.

Smart regulation is key for creating a new digital economy in MENA

Andrea Barone's picture

The call for the transformation of the role of the state contained in the latest MENA Economic Monitor (MEM) cannot be overemphasized. For the "moonshot approach" to the new digital economy to succeed in generating equitable growth and creating millions of jobs, public authorities in the region must become effective regulators. Indeed, digitization poses a set of unique economic, political, and social challenges that require defining clear "rules of the game".

Solving the water crisis in Beirut

Saroj Kumar Jha's picture
Patrick Abi Salloum / World Bank

In many ways, Beirut is the capital of resilience and generosity. Over the centuries, the city has embraced, and continues to embrace, civilizations and cultures of diverse backgrounds and colors, and today, it stands as resilient as ever in the face of subsequent protracted crises in its neighborhood. 

Despite all of their natural advantages, though, residents of Beirut are sorely lacking in one basic ingredient of life – water. Beirut’s roads attest to this reality, as they often get clogged with water tanks, whose roaring engines provide a backdrop to the sounds of the city. Lebanon’s severe water shortage affects 1.6 million people in Beirut and the Mount Lebanon area, but especially the poorest neighborhoods of the city where 460,000 residents living on less than $4 a day have to make do with only a few hours of drinking water each day. In some parts of the city, that can be as low as three hours a day in summertime, the peak of the crisis. 

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