Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Hassan Hakimian

Founding contributors

Hassan Hakimian
Professor of Economics and Director, Middle Eastern Studies Department, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)

Hassan Hakimian is Professor of Economics and Director, Middle Eastern Studies Department, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Emeritus Professor at SOAS University of London the Director of the London Middle East Institute and a Reader in Economics at SOAS, University of London. He has published widely on Middle Eastern economies with a special focus on Iran. He is a founding member and currently the President of the International Iranian Economic Association (IEA) and a Research Fellow and member of the Advisory Committee of the ERF. He is the Series Editor for 'Routledge Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa’.

Content by this Author

Contours of Middle East economics

A new handbook on the Middle East economy has just been published. As the volume’s editor explains in this column, knowledge of Middle Eastern economies as an autonomous field within economics is of relatively recent origins and has evolved in uneven ways.

Can Trump’s sanctions break Iran?

Iran and the United States seem to have reversed roles with the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. As this Project Syndicate column explains, Iran’s isolation before the agreement now contrasts with America's determination to swim against the global tide.

Iran’s long economic journey

The landslide re-election of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, in 2017 reflects the by now familiar pattern of continuity and change that has characterised Iran’s major elections over the last two decades. But, as this Project Syndicate column explains, it also stands out in one key way: Rouhani has remained popular despite pursuing painful macroeconomic stabilisation. Now he needs to look beyond current conditions to address entrenched structural challenges facing the Iranian economy.

Why economists missed the Arab Spring

Just prior to the Arab Spring, many of the economic and social indicators for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa painted quite a favourable picture of the region. This Project Syndicate column explores why economists failed to anticipate the unrest. One key lesson is that improved economic performance cannot be viewed as an insurance policy against political instability.

From booming oil revenues to inclusive growth

The first ten years of the twenty-first century saw an unprecedented surge in oil prices and highly favourable incomes for oil-exporting countries in the Middle East – yet it culminated in social and political upheaval. This column reports research on the extent to which the growth experiences of those countries in that decade may be considered to have been ‘inclusive’ of a broad swathe of society.

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Egypt’s care economy needs to address deteriorating working conditions

A robust and high-quality care economy is critical for supporting women’s employment – as both an employer of women and a mechanism for redistributing unpaid care work to the market. Yet in Egypt, despite national goals of expanding care services, employment in the sector has been shrinking, while becoming increasingly privatised. As this column reports, care jobs have also experienced worsening conditions of work, including reduced formality and the emergence of a pay penalty for care workers.

Unemployment among young women in GCC countries

The average rate of unemployment among young women in the high-income countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is far higher than the equivalent for young men. This column reports new evidence on the extent to which flexible labour markets, in the context of a generous social contract, can reduce female youth unemployment rates in the region.

Boosting trade through flexible rules of origin in preferential agreements

Rules of origin are critical components of preferential trade agreements designed to stop products coming in under insufficient transformation or through the partner that applies the lowest tariff. But in practice, these rules are often needlessly complex, undoing the benefits of market access associated with trade agreements. This column reports research showing that the adoption of more flexible product-specific rules of origin within preferential agreements would give a significant boost to global trade.

Challenges of GCC investment in the energy transition

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have identified the energy transition as a crucial area of growth and are investing heavily in a diverse array of projects. However, as this column explains, the region faces a number of challenges in making a success of these investments, most notably its current dependence on fossil fuels, a lack of infrastructure and technical expertise, the high upfront costs, and geopolitical tensions.

The decline of social insurance in Egypt: directions for reform

The longstanding challenge for the Egyptian economy of providing its workers with decent, formal, socially insured jobs has become even more difficult. As this column explains, informality has been rising rather than falling, with a substantial reduction in social insurance coverage for the employed since the late 1990s. Reforms are needed to reverse this decline.

Social insurance in Egypt: between costly formality and legal informality

The rates of participation of Egyptian workers in contributory social insurance has continued to decline, even during times when the country has had positive annual growth rates. This column discusses key institutional elements in the design of the current social insurance scheme that have contributed to the growing gap in coverage, particularly the scheme’s cost and eligibility requirements.

Jordan: navigating through multiple crises

Jordan’s real GDP per capita is today no higher than it was 40 years ago. While external factors have undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the country’s economic outcomes, weak macroeconomic management and low public spending on investment and the social sectors have also played a substantial role. This column explores what can be done to reduce high public debt, accelerate private sector development and enhance social outcomes.

Making trade agreements more environmentally friendly in the MENA region

Trade policy can play a significant role in efforts to decarbonise the global economy. But as this column explains, there need to be more environmental provisions in trade agreements in which developing countries participate – and stronger legal enforcement of those provisions at the international level. The MENA region would benefit substantially from such changes.

Egypt and Iraq: amenities, environmental quality and taste for revolution

The Middle East and North Africa is a region marked by significant political turbulence. This column explores a novel dimension of these upheavals: the relationship between people’s satisfaction with, on one hand, the amenities to which they have access and the environmental quality they experience, and, on the other hand, their inclination towards revolutionary actions. The data come from the World Value Survey collected in 2018 in Egypt and Iraq.

Iran’s globalisation and Saudi Arabia’s defence budget

How might Saudi Arabia react to Iran's renewed participation in global trade and investment? This column explores whether the expanding economic globalisation of Iran, following the lifting of nuclear sanctions, could yield a peace dividend for Saudi Arabia, consequently dampening the Middle East arms competition. These issues have attracted increased attention in recent times, notably after a pivotal agreement between the two countries in March 2023, marking the resumption of their political ties after a seven-year conflict.