In recent 5 years, after the Arab Spring events of 2010 and beyond, civil wars and disarray in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen undermined economic growth of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries. However, for over half a century before that MENA was a relatively successful region in terms of growth – its per capita GDP growth rates in 1960-2010 were generally higher than that of the world with the exception of the 1980s (Iran-Iraq war and 1986 collapse of oil prices).
Growth rates of per capita GDP in MENA countries in the postwar period were certainly well below that in East Asian tigers and dragons, and a bit below South Asia, but they were higher than in other regions of the Global South – Sub Sahara Africa, Latin America, and former Soviet Union. Three countries of the region – Israel, Oman, and Tunisia – were among 20 fastest growing countries of the world in 1950-2010.
In terms of social progress – education and life expectancy – the achievements of MENA were even more spectacular. Many MENA countries increased their life expectancy greatly in 1960- 2010, in most of them it exceeded 70 years (in Russia – 72 years in 2015). Human Development Index (HDI) – an average of calibrated indicators of per capita income, educational levels (enrolment and years of schooling) and life expectancy – increased by 65% in Arab countries in 1970-2010, which is more than in any other region of the world except for East Asia (96%) and South Asia (72%). The increase in life expectancy in 1970-2010 in Arab countries was the highest in the world, whereas the increase in school enrolment and literacy was higher than in all other regions of the world with the exception of Sub Sahara Africa that started at a very low base level
The roundtable will explore the reasons for the relatively strong economic and social performance of MENA countries. To what extent can this performance be explained by the variations in oil (resource) prices? What are the prospects for future growth in the region? How does the performance of MENA countries compare to that of other Moslem states, such as countries of Central Asia?
Aleksey Malashenko, DOC RI, Moscow
Vladimir Popov, DOC RI, Berlin
Vladimir Popov, Research Director, DOC RI
Vitalii Meliantsev, Professor, Head of the Department of International Economics, Institute of Asian and African Studies, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University
Bahodur Eshonov, FAO’s Subregional Office for Central Asia, Ankara, Turkey
Yaşar Yakış, former Foreign Minister, and a former Ambassador to the UN Office in Vienna, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, Chair of the European Union Harmonization Committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
Veniamin Popov, Director of the Center of the Partnership of Civilizations, MGIMO, Moscow; former Soviet/Russian Ambassador in Yemen, Libya, Tunisia
Amr Hamzawy,Senior Research Scholar, Center of Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University.
Alexey Malashenko, Senior Researcher, DOC-RI, Moscow
Peter Knoope – Senior Visiting Fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT)
Hartmut Elsenhans, Professor Emeritus, Leipzig University
Ahmed Badawi, Senior Researcher, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics, Freie Universität Berlin
Amirah El-Haddad, Senior Economist, Sustainable Economic and Social Development Department, Stabilization and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, German Development Institute (TBC)
The roundtable will take place at the DOC Offices in Berlin on 27 October, from 10:00-17:30.
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