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Middle East and North Africa

Palestine is better than its reputation – debunking the de-development myth

Steen Jorgensen's picture

Have the efforts of the international community and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the twenty years since the Oslo agreement led to improvements in the lives of Palestinians – the answer is yes. Would the results have been even better without the blockade of Gaza, Israeli restrictions and lack of implementation of existing agreements – the answer is also yes.

Can fragility in countries be addressed outside of politics?

Alaa Tartir's picture

Have the ‘good intentions’ of the international community and institutions such as the World Bank hindered progress in countries and territories vulnerable to instability and violence? The case of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) suggests a resounding ‘yes’.

Tangier, Morocco: Success on the Strait of Gibraltar

Z. Joe Kulenovic's picture
 Z. Joe Kulenovic
Modern factories, seaport terminals, and technical schools, plus priceless cultural monuments: Tangier, Morocco

In late 2014, the World Bank’s Competitive Cities team visited the Moroccan city of Tangier, to carry out a case study of how a city in the Middle East & North Africa Region managed to achieve stellar economic growth and create jobs for its rising population, especially given that it is not endowed with oil or natural gas reserves like many others in the region.
In just over a decade, this ancient port city went from dormant to dominant. Between 2005 and 2012, for example, Tangier created new jobs three times as fast as Morocco as a whole (employment growth averaged 2.7% and 0.9% per year, respectively), while also outpacing national GDP growth by about a tenth. Today, the city and its surrounding region of Tanger-Tétouan is a booming commercial gateway and manufacturing hub, with one of Africa’s largest seaports and automotive factories, producing some 400,000 vehicles per year (with Moroccan-made content at approximately 35-40%, and a target to increase that share to 60% in the next few years). The metropolitan area now boasts multiple free trade zones and industrial parks, while also thriving as a tourist destination. As in our previous city case studies, we wanted to know what (and who) drove this transformation, and how exactly it was achieved.

Economic inclusion can help prevent violent extremism in the Arab world

Hafez Ghanem's picture

Homs, Syria, September 2013. Destroyed a residential area in the city of Homs injured in fighting between rebels of the Syrian National Army

Twin suicide bombers in Beirut were followed the very next day by the coordinated attacks in Paris. These were preceded by news reports that “more likely than not” a bomb brought down the Russian plane over Egypt’s Sinai, together with the claim by a Daesh  (the Arabic acronym for ISIS) affiliate that it was behind that attack. , These attacks underscore the dangers of violent extremism. People of many different nationalities have been victims of violent extremist acts in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America.

The other Arab revolution

Wael Zakout's picture
Man holding Tunisian Flag - jbor /

I just returned from Tunisia, my first ever visit to this beautiful country. It was a touching experience as it is the birth place of the modern Arab Revolution that started in late 2010. Sadly, many of what are called “Arab Spring” countries are now bogged down in terrible and destructive wars that have devastating effects on their people, economy and infrastructure. 

Lifting of Iran sanctions could have major impact on energy markets

John Baffes's picture
With a lifting of sanctions in 2016, Iran could play a key role in energy markets but boosting capacity will require foreign investment, according to the World Bank’s latest edition of Commodity Markets Outlook.

The multiple tragedies of Syria’s displaced women, and why the G20 needs to pay attention

Omer Karasapan's picture
Photoman29 l Shutterstock

Roughly half of the world’s 60 million-plus displaced people are female (the 60 million includes 19 million refugees and 41 million internally displaced people (IDPs). This the highest number ever recorded and the numbers continue to rise.

What is the social contract and why does the Arab world need a new one?

Shanta Devarajan's picture
Mohamed Elsayyed l World Bank

To development economists (like myself), the uprisings that started in Tunisia and spread to several countries in the Arab world in 2010-11 came as somewhat of a surprise.  For the previous decade, almost all the indicators of economic well-being were strong and improving. 

Morocco’s social contract and civil liberties

Paul Prettitore's picture
Moroccan Flag - Arne Hoel l World Bank

The Arab Spring and its aftermath have inspired much 
discussion of the social contracts that had defined the relationship between citizens and the state in the Arab world. In the past, the typical social contract of a state in the Middle East or North Africa broadly afforded that citizens would be provided jobs and public services, and presumably political stability, in return for limiting civil liberties that could be used to challenge governing regimes. The political transition in Morocco has provided space for addressing civil liberties in the debate on new social contracts. 

Boosting clean tech to power a low-carbon future

Zhihong Zhang's picture
A thermo-solar power plant in Morocco. Photo by Dana Smillie / World Bank.

Global warming can be limited by reducing or avoiding greenhouse gases stemming from human activities - particularly in the energy, industry, transport, and building sectorswhich together account for over 75% of global emissions. So low carbon technologies are key to achieving mitigation while creating new economic opportunities.
Since 2008, the $5.3 billion Clean Technology Fund (CTF) - one of the $8.1 billion Climate Investment Funds' (CIF) four funding windows—has been partnering with multilateral development banks (MDBs), including the World Bank and the IFC, to provide concessional financing to large-scale country-led projects and programs in renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport.
As the world gets ready for the climate negotiations in Paris later this month, the governing bodies of CTF met in Washington D..C. MDBs, donor countries, recipient countries and civil society organizations gathered to, among other things, share the results and lessons of how the CTF is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating energy savings, and improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest people by creating jobs and reducing pollution.
The CTF report card is based on the results from operational projects and programs over a one year period. In total, the CTF has achieved 20 mtCO2e in emission reductionsthat’s the equivalent to taking four and a half million cars off the road or shutting down six coal fired power plants.