Report Launch: World Bank MENA Economic Update, October 2021

November 16, 2021

This edition of the World Bank MENA Economic Update estimates that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s economies, which contracted by 3.8% in 2020, will grow by 2.8% in 2021. Overall, the output cost of COVID-19 so far in MENA is almost $200 billion, a number estimated by comparing the region’s forecast GDP level with a scenario where there was not any COVID. The report predicts that the economic recovery will be both tenuous and uneven, with per capita GDP, which is a more accurate measure of people’s standard of living, increasing by only 1.1% in 2021 after declining an estimated 5.4% in 2020. The report estimates that 13 of 16 countries covered in the macroeconomic forecasts will have lower standards of living than prior to COVID. The region’s recovery will also depend on a rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines, while for some countries additional growth risks are posed by ongoing political uncertainty. This edition looks specifically at how the region’s ill-prepared health systems hampered the response to the pandemic. MENA was one of the only regions in the developing world where government expenditure as a share of GDP increased during the decade prior to the pandemic, rising from 16% to 18% between 2009 and 2019. This legacy of large public sectors and high public debt crowded out investments in public health, which weighed on the ability to respond to the health crisis. Going forward, countries will have to pay more attention to timely public health data and overcome a historic underinvestment in vital public health systems. The World Bank and the Policy Center are pleased to share the findings from this latest report, followed by an engaging conversation with a panel of World Bank and Policy Center experts.

Karim El Aynaoui
Executive President
Karim El Aynaoui is Executive Vice-President of Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and Dean of its Humanities, Economics and Social Sciences Cluster. He is also Executive President of the Policy Center for the New South. Karim El Aynaoui is an economist. From 2005 to 2012, he worked at the Central Bank of Morocco where he held the position of Director of Economics, Statistics, and International Relations. At the Central Bank of Morocco, he was in charge of the Research Department and equally a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. Previously, he worked for eight years at the World Bank as an Economist for its regional units of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as Africa. Karim El Aynaoui has published books and journal articles on macroeconomic issues in developin ...


  • August 29, 2023
    In this conversation, Ms. Lina Khatib, the Director of SOAS University's Middle East Institute, delves deep into pressing regional issues. She highlights what policymakers can do to ensure the equitable distribution of economic development benefits and prevent any regression. Khatib als...
  • June 14, 2022
    يخصص مركز السياسات من أجل الجنوب الجديد حلقة برنامجه الأسبوعي "حديث الثلاثاء" للمشاركة الاقتصادية للنساء في الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا: التحديات والفرص مع السيد ة حياة الشوبكي، باحثة ومنسقة المشاريع في قسم العدالة الاجتماعية في معهد غرب اسيا وشمال افريقيا تسهم مشاركة النساء في الأنشطة ...
  • November 16, 2021
    This edition of the World Bank MENA Economic Update estimates that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s economies, which contracted by 3.8% in 2020, will grow by 2.8% in 2021. Overall, the output cost of COVID-19 so far in MENA is almost $200 billion, a number estimated by c...
  • Authors
    Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo
    Alessandro Politi
    Claire Spencer
    Abdulaziz Sager
    Mahboub E. Hashem
    Matt Herbert
    Umberto Profazio
    Eman Ragab
    Brahim Oumansour
    Ashraf Mohamed Keshk
    Jean-Loup Samaan
    Ahmad Masa’deh
    Giovanni Romani
    November 11, 2021
    Since its very beginning in 2011, the Middle East and Deep Maghreb have been a fundamental priority for the Foundation. As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Arab uprisings, our Dossier wants to provide a meaningful understanding of the future dynamics of an area that, despite several positive attempts, is still affected by major instability. Gathering the perspectives of a pool of distinguished regional and international analysts, this publication dives into the socio-econ ...
  • Authors
    July 16, 2021
    The BDA Currents: Where Diplomacy Meets Business, is the Brussels Diplomatic Academy’s annual report covering the wider geopolitical and other factors influencing and affecting the world of diplomacy, international relations and global business. The journal focuses on issues of topical interest around the centers of global power, influence and importance, including the continents of Europe and Africa, the Middle East, China, India & Asia, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independe ...
  • Authors
    Jihad Azour
    February 5, 2021
    This article was originally published on IMF blog.  The road to recovery for the Middle East and Central Asia region will hinge on containment measures, access to and distribution of vaccines, the scope of policies to support growth, and measures to mitigate economic scarring from the pandemic. The virus’s second wave, which began in September, hurt many countries in the region, where infection and death rates far surpassed those seen during the first wave . Most countries resumed ...
  • June 10, 2020
    Ce travail vient explorer une nouvelle piste qui pourrait contribuer à une levée de confinement efficace. Il s’agit d’un phénomène que l’on appelle « effet coupe du monde ». Nous définissons, d’abord, ce phénomène, montrons son existence et son éventuel effet amplificateur au regard de la progression de la pandémie, en termes du nombre de cas infectés au pic et la durée encourue avant son atteinte. Partant de scénarios hypothétiques, en ce qui concerne les conditions initiales à la ...
  • June 10, 2020
    We explore a new avenue that could contribute to an effective de-confinement in the context of COVID-19. This phenomenon is known as the ‘World Cup Effect’. We first define this phenomenon and highlight its existence and its possible amplifying effect with regard to the spread of the pandemic, in light of the number of infected cases recorded at the pandemic’s peak, and the duration before reaching its highest level. Based on hypothetical scenarios in terms of the initial conditions ...