Office of the Chief Economist - Middle East & North Africa

April 16, 2019

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa possess all the ingredients they need to leapfrog into the digital future. Their well-educated youth have already adopted new digital and mobile technologies, but, this is still in its infancy. Seizing the opportunities that the digital economy offers the MENA region will require a big push. Policymakers will need to work on multiple fronts. The sooner they start, the greater the chance that today’s young people can overcome economic exclusion and gain more opportunities to realize their—and their region’s—full potential.

World Bank Group


Reforms and External Imbalances: The Labor-Productivity Connection in the Middle East and North Africa

World Bank economists expect economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to continue at a modest pace of about 1.5 to 3.5% during 2019-2021, with some laggards and a few emerging growth stars. While some MENA economies have maintained what this Update calls “unexplained” current account balances for several years, fiscal policy has lost some of its historical role as a driver of the current account. In addition, the region’s capacity to recirculate savings from one country to another also seems to have weakened, most notably since 2014, when the global restructuring of the oil market became abundantly apparent. The declining movement of savings across borders suggests that regional economies that tended to finance trade and current account deficits of other economies now face declining current accounts themselves.

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2019


The MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series is a regular event organized to shed light on and debate the latest research relevant to the Middle East and North Africa. The MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series are held in the World Bank offices in Washington, DC and are open to the public. If you’d like to attend, please send a request to

MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series April/May 2019:

25 April 2019 

Global Wage Report: what lies behind the gender pay gaps

Molka Abassi

7 May 2019

Digital Revolutions in Public Finance

Genevieve Verdier (IMF)

16 May 2019  

Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia

Leonardo Bursztyn (University of Chicago)

21 May 2019

Digital platforms: a literature review and policy implications for development

Carlo Rossotto (World Bank)

28 May 2019

Climate change and institutional investors

Frédéric Samama (Amundi)


Meet our Chief Economist

Rabah Arezki

Chief Economist

    Regional Reports and Research