To respond effectively to the Covid-19 crisis, decision-makers need timely and relevant information. This column discusses the value of phone surveys, which do not require face-to-face interactions and can be deployed rapidly, repeated regularly and adapted swiftly to changing circumstances. But they are not a panacea: there are many more data sources on which governments could be drawing to inform their efforts to save lives and protect livelihoods.
Similar to most net oil-producing countries, the economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council are affected by two simultaneous shocks: the Covid-19 outbreak and lower oil prices. In response, GCC governments have adopted sizeable stimulus packages to attenuate the negative impact of the crisis, while putting more pressure on their fiscal positions. This column discusses how GCC countries should strike the right balance between supporting economic recovery while ensuring fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability.
In an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19, Egypt’s government has implemented social distancing measures that have a particularly direct impact on daily commuters and other mobile workers. This column examines both the health risks and the economic risks facing these individuals, their families and their local communities.
How should the United Arab Emirates chart a way forward from today’s world of very low oil prices and a deteriorating world economic outlook? This column explores the impact on of current circumstances on UAE economic activity, government spending and the budget deficit. The ultimate goal, the authors conclude, should be to sustain the momentum of further diversification of the economy to reduce oil dependency and hedge against continued fluctuations in oil prices and spillovers from the global economy.
The many refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt were facing numerous challenges of integration and access to work even before the Covid-19 pandemic. This column outlines their daily struggles for survival, as well as the emerging economic and health risks as a result of the crisis and the policy responses.
Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa were facing macroeconomic fragility even before the Covid-19 crisis. This column presents new World Bank analysis of the fiscal sustainability of several MENA countries, with the important caveat that there is a lack of data transparency about stocks of public debt in the region.
Data on labour market outcomes in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are often difficult to evaluate. As this column explains, official labour market statistics in the region are typically based on ambiguous definitions, which makes it impossible to replicate them using independent data sources. Moreover, precise definitions are particularly relevant to assess women’s engagement in the labour market and the role of women in the societies of the region.
Turkey had a bad year in 2019 in terms of its foreign trade, which was already lower than 2018 levels owing to the recession with which the country was struggling in the previous year. As this column notes, any further decline in trade would be nothing but disruptive – yet it has happened.
Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. This column summarises the International Monetary Fund’s April 2020 Regional Economic Outlook on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices; the short- and longer-term policy priorities; and how the IMF is helping the region cope with the crisis.
The Middle East and North Africa region has been facing chronic low growth for decades. It is also the only part of the world where statistical capacity and data transparency have fallen since 2005: it now ranks the lowest. This column investigates the potential impact on economic growth – and the particular need for transparency during crises such as the current pandemic.
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are facing both the Covid-19 pandemic and a collapse in oil prices. Given the unprecedentedly fast-evolving global health crisis and highly volatile oil price, estimating the costs of the dual shock and forecasting economy is challenging. But as this column explains, changes in forecasts can provide some information on the costs of the crises.
How can Syria’s economy be reconstructed after the civil war? This column outlines key considerations for policy-makers and the international community. Promoting political stability is particularly important to attract foreign investments that would aid the process of restoring the country’s infrastructure.
Lebanon’s financial crisis developed over a long period of time before shaping into a dollar liquidity shortage from the summer of 2019. This column argues that a key first step in any effective policy response is to separate the government debt problem from the liquidity problem: this way, debt restructuring can proceed without causing more liquidity problems. The country also needs economic growth to begin to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio to a sustainable level.
How is the global pandemic affecting the many migrants from Egypt working in Europe, the Gulf and other Arab countries? This column looks at the challenges they are facing as well as their families back home, who are often highly dependent on remittances.