Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Hala Abou-Ali

Editorial board

Hala Abou-Ali
Vice President, Institute of National Planning and a Professor of Economics, Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS), Cairo University

Hala Abou-Ali is the Vice President of the Institute of National Planning, a Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS), Cairo University and a Research Fellow at the Economic Research Forum specialized in environmental and development economics with focus on the economic value and modelling of environmental resources in developing countries. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Gothenburg University, Sweden. Abou-Ali served as the Branch Campus President of the University of London hosted by the European Universities in Egypt (EUE) and as the Programme Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) at EUE from 2019 to 2022. Abou-Ali also worked as the director of the French Section at FEPS, Cairo University, from 2012 to 2015. She was appointed as the Secretary General of the National Council of Childhood and Motherhood in 2015. Abou-Ali is a former Member of the Egyptian Parliament. She was elected as the President of the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development for the 2016-2018 round and as Co-chair of the Global Networks of Road Safety Legislators 2019-2021. Abou-Ali joined the Economic Research Forum (ERF) in 2008 on a part time basis to take the lead on the work carried out on environmental economics in the MENA region. Starting January 2014 to August 2015, she led the Open Access Micro Data Initiative (OAMDI). She is an ERF Research Fellow. She has published several articles in internationally refereed journals and edited Economic incentives and environmental regulation: evidence from the MENA region (Edward Elgar 2012). She has accumulated experience in the economic value and modelling of environmental resources in developing countries, with a particular focus on water and air pollution and agricultural land degradation. She has also worked on issues such as climate change, impact evaluation of investments, poverty assessment, education, health, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Sustainable Development Goals for UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, and World Bank.

Content by this Author

Food security and child malnutrition in Africa

There is a complex relationship between climate change, food security and children’s nutritional status. This column outlines the research evidence, focusing in particular on the experience of African countries and poorer communities within them.

Climate change: the impact on child malnutrition in the Nile basin

There are complex interactions between climate change, food security and children’s nutritional status. This column summarises new research on these relationships in the context of Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda, including the role of socio-economic factors in shaping child health, as well as possible routes and biological aspects that could explain their impacts.

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Sustaining entrepreneurship: lessons from Iran

Does entrepreneurial activity naturally return to long-term average levels after big economic disturbances? This column presents new evidence from Iran on trends in entrepreneurship among various categories of firm size, sector and location – and suggests policies that could be effective in promoting entrepreneurial activities.

Happiness in the Arab world: should we be concerned?

Several Arab countries have low rankings in the latest comparative assessment of average happiness across the world. But as this column explains, the average is not a reliable summary statistic when applied to ordinal data. The evidence from more robust analysis of socio-economic inequality in happiness suggests that policy-makers should be less concerned about happiness indicators than the core development objective of more equitable social conditions for citizens.

Financial constraints on small firms’ growth: pandemic lessons from Iran

How does access to finance affect the growth of small businesses? This column presents new evidence from Iran before and during the Covid-19 pandemic – and lessons learned by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The economics of Israeli war aims and strategies

Israel’s response to last October’s Hamas attack has led to widespread death and destruction. This column outlines the impact thus far, including the effects on food scarcity, migration and the Palestinian economy in both Gaza and the West Bank.

It’s too early to tell what happened to the Arab Spring

Did the Arab Spring fail? This column presents a view the consensus view from ERF’s recent annual conference in Morocco: careful analysis of the fundamental drivers of democratic transitions suggests that it’s too early to tell.

Arab regional cooperation in a fragmenting world

As globalisation stalls, regionalisation has emerged as an alternative. This column argues that Arab countries need to face the new realities and move decisively towards greater mutual cooperation. A regional integration agenda that also supports domestic reforms could be an important source of growth, jobs and stability.

Gender differences in business record-keeping and planning in Iraq

Only one in every ten informal businesses in Iraq is led by a woman. Yet as research summarised in this column reveals, those businesses are more likely to set budgets and sales targets, and to keep business records. This may be evidence of the role of social exclusion in motivating greater reliance on the formal bureaucratic system.

Self-employment in MENA: the role of religiosity and personal values

How important are individual’s values and beliefs in influencing the likelihood that they will embrace the responsibilities, risks and entrepreneurial challenge of self-employment? This column presents evidence from 12 countries in the Middle East and North African region on the roles of people’s religiosity and sense of personal agency in their labour market choices.

Reformed foreign ownership rules in UAE: the impact on business entry

In an effort to stimulate economic growth and diversify the economy, the government of the United Arab Emirates has recently implemented regulatory reform that allows 100% foreign ownership of companies operating in the country. This column examines the implications of the reform for entry of new firms in Dubai, using unique data on new business licences in the emirate.

Conflict and debt in the Middle East and North Africa

With the global economy is in its third year of deceleration amid declining inflation and oil prices, the Middle East and North Africa grew by just 1.9% in 2023, with a forecast for growth in 2024 at 2.7%. In addition to heightened uncertainty brought on by the conflict centred in Gaza, many countries in the region are also grappling with pre-existing vulnerabilities, including rising debt levels. This column summarises a new report that unpacks the nature of debt in MENA – and explains the critical importance of keeping rising debt stocks in check.