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Mashreq Day: Pushing the Frontier in a Conflict-Affected Region
April 13, 2016Washington DC

The purpose of the Mashreq Day event is to feature highlights of recent World Bank response and support in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and preparation for eventual reengagement in Syria.

The purpose of the Mashreq Day event is to feature the recent work undertaken by the World Bank in the Mashreq countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Syria) since the onset of the conflict in Syria, which focused mainly on alleviating the pressures emanating from the serious spillovers of the crisis on neighboring countries. The event would also showcase data from a preliminary damage needs assessment conducted (remotely) by the Bank on six cities and six sectors in Syria, in addition to possible initiatives for launching the reconstruction process in the war-torn country once peace is established.

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8:30-8:45 am

Introduction by Hafez Ghanem, MNA VP and Ferid Belhaj, Country Director, Mashreq Department

8:45-10:15 am

Staying Ahead of the Curve:  Preparing for Eventual Re-Engagement in Syria

Syria Information and Research Initiative (SIRI)
This session will presenit a remote in-conflict damage assessment for readiness and preparedness for rapid response once the situation allows. It will present findings and innovative methodology used to prepare this assessment of quantitative damage to six sectors in six cities in Syria through satellite imagery and social media web analytics. This methodology was used in the Iraq Emergency Development Operation and Yemen.


Presenter:  Raja Rehan Arshad, Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist.

Creating a Launching Pad to Reconstruct Syria
When peace eventually comes to Syria, the magnitude of the reconstruction effort will be immense - the construction sectors of neighboring countries will play an important role. Historically, a common feature of major reconstruction efforts associated with natural disasters or cessation of conflict has been a substantial spike in the price of construction materials. We are currently exploring options to create jobs now for host and refugee communities by ‘bringing forward’ the manufacture of selected construction materials that will be needed once there is peace. In order to attract investments and create jobs before war ends, a funding scheme is proposed that would offer a commitment to purchase reconstruction goods and store them for future use. While such an approach carries risks around issues such as financing, future demand, and storage, it also offers potential benefits around provision of jobs to host and refugee communities now, and mitigation of future inflationary price hikes. This session will present the proposed scheme and idea; and provide an update to assess its feasibility and the business case to spur a (re)construction industry in the region.

Presenter:  Najy Benhassine, Practice Manager, Trade and Competitiveness.

Economic Opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees
This planned project aims to support the Government of Jordan’s efforts to develop economic opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees. The Government has agreed to make available to investors serviced industrial land in Special Economic Zones located throughout the country, as well as an incentive package and improvements in the business climate. Preliminary discussions with investors show that this combination will lead to investments and significant job creation for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees.

Presenter:  John Speakman, Adviser, Trade and Competitiveness

Discussants:  Adnan Mazarei, IMF; Joseph Saba, former WBG Country Director and Mouayed Makhlouf, Regional Director, IFC;  Moderator: Kim Ghattas, BBC Journalist.

10:15-10:30 am

Coffee Break

10:30-11:15 am

Analyzing the Challenges Facing a Hosting Country:  the Case of Lebanon

Lebanon Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD)
The Lebanon SCD identifies key challenges and opportunities for the country to accelerate progress in poverty reduction and shared prosperity in a sustainable way.  The report finds that growth over past decades has been moderate but erratic due to frequent and mostly political shocks. The quality of growth has also been low, with persistent and elevated poverty that includes large spatial inequality and weak job content. The SCD argues that failure to generate inclusive growth is due to two mutually reinforcing and pervasive overarching constraints, namely: (1) elite capture hidden behind the veil of confessionalism (confessional governance); and (2) conflict and violence. Other, more traditional constraints are nested within these two overarching constraints. The SCD posits that, absent the destabilizing impact of confessional governance and conflict, these nested constraints would be significantly less binding than they currently are.

Presenter: Eric Le Borgne, Lead Economist.

Discussants:  Ibrahim Kanaan, Lebanese MP, Chair of finance & budget committee ; Shanta Devarajan, MNA Chief Economist. Moderator:  Maya Raydan, Business Anchor, SkyNews Arabia.

11:15-12:15 pm

Responding in Real Time to a Twin Shock:  Lessons Learned in Iraq

Emergency Operation for Development
This rapid, multi-GP response to Government request to reconstruct damage in cities liberated from ISIS control was prepared in record time using simplification introduced in OP10 working in fragility. This project used the innovative methodology of satellite technology and social media analytics to inform the project on the extent of damage and sectors selected. This operation focuses not only on emergency response but also preparedness for development.


Presenter:  Ibrahim Dajani, Sr. Infrastructure Specialist.

Development Policy Financing (DPF)
The Iraq Emergency Fiscal Stabilization, Energy Sustainability, and State-Owned Enterprise Transparency DPF is a critical part of the Bank’s efforts to help address fragility and increase stability in Iraq and the broader MENA region. This US$1.2 billion DPF, disbursed in December 2015, supports key elements of Iraq’s medium-term development priorities and seeks to safeguard economic stability and basic service delivery. The DPF is built around three pillars to improve: (1) expenditure management; (2) sustainability of energy supply; and (3) transparency of SOEs. This operation addresses the short-term emergency resulting from heightened fragility while helping lay the ground for addressing structural challenges, and is a demonstration of the Bank’s new approach to the MENA Region, as articulated in the MENA Strategy.

Presenters:  Eric Le Borgne,  Lead Economist & Sibel Kulaksiz, Senior Economist

Discussants:  Christian Josz, IMF Mission Chief & Ede Ijjasz Vasquez, Sr. Director, Urban, Rural and Social Development Global Practice. Moderator:  Joseph Saba, former WBG Country Director.

12:15-1:30 pm

Mitigating the Impact of the Syria Crisis on Neighboring Countries: The Humanitarian / Human Development Continuum

The Syrian crisis threatens the human development outcomes of refugees and host communities in neighboring countries. Health, education, and social protection systems are struggling to meet the needs of both populations. In the first instances of the crisis, humanitarian aid was mobilized rapidly to meet the basic health needs of the refugees, ensure some form of education, and provide social safety nets. However, five years past the crisis have shown that a (human) development approach is needed. Taking Lebanon as a case study, this session will discuss how this country - which today has more than 55% of its population classified as “vulnerable” – is making the shift from a humanitarian to a (human) development approach.

Presenter:  Haneen Ismail Sayed, Program Leader, Mashreq Department.

Discussants: HE Elias Bou Saab, Lebanese Minister of Education (tbc), Keith Hansen, HD VP, Yassine Jaber, Lebanese Member of Parliament & Ewen McLeod, Head of Development Policy & Evaluation Service, UNHCR. Moderator:  Saroj Jha, Sr. Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence CCSA.

1:30-1:45 pm

Tying the Threads:  Wrap-up by Ferid Belhaj, Country Director, Mashreq Department & Saroj Jha, Sr. Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence CCSA

1:45 pm

Buffet Lunch

  • HE Elias Bou Saab

    Minister of Education and Higher Education, Lebanon
    Bou Saab was previously the Executive Vice President of the American University in Dubai. Elias Bou Saab was previously mayor of Dhour Shweir municipality in the Metn region of Mount Lebanon. Bou Saab holds a Master’s degree in international relations from Boston University. He also holds a degree in Marketing from the American College in London.
  • Raja Rehan Arshad

    Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist, World Bank Group
    Raja Rehan Arshad is Lead Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Specialist in the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, currently DRM Coordinator in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
  • Ferid Belhaj

    Director for Middle East, World Bank
    Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Director for the Middle East covering Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran.
  • Najy Benhassine

    Practice Manager, Trade & Competitiveness
    Najy Benhassine is the Practice Manager for the Middle East & North Africa Region for the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group.
  • Ibrahim K. Dajani

    Senior Infrastructure Specialist, MNA Transport GP, World Bank Group
  • Shanta Devarajan

    Chief Economist, Middle East North Africa, World Bank Group
  • Hafez Ghanem

    Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank Group
    Hafez Ghanem, an Egyptian and French national, is the Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Kim Ghattas

    BBC journalist
    Kim Ghattas is a BBC journalist covering international affairs. Her work has also been published by The Daily Beast, Time magazine and The Washington Post.
  • Keith Hansen

    Vice President, Human Development, World Bank Group
    Keith Hansen is the Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank Group, overseeing the Global Practices for education; health, nutrition, and population; and social protection and labor.
  • Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez

    Senior Director for the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, Urban, Rural & Social Development, World Bank Group
  • Yassine Jaber

    Lebanese Member of Parliament
    Mr. Jaber is Member of Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee and also the Foreign and Emigrant Affairs Committee. Since 1995, he has held several ministerial posts: Minister of Economy and Trade (1995-1998); Minister Public Works and Transport (2004-2005); and Minister of Public Works and Transport (2007-2008).
  • Saroj Kumar Jha

    Senior Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group, World Bank
    Saroj Kumar Jha is the Senior Director for the Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group at the World Bank Group.
  • Ibrahim Kanaan

    Lebanese Member of Parliament and Lebanese MP, Chair of finance & budget committee
    Ibrahim Kanaan is currently serving his second term in Parliament. He was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 to represent the Metn District of Mount Lebanon. As chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, Kanaan’s top priorities are remodeling a new modern electoral law, lowering the costs of health care, improving the independence of the Judiciary, and restructuring the security apparatus. Kanaan has a Degree in Lebanese Law from Saint Joseph University and a Master’s in Private International Law from Paris II.
  • Sibel Kulaksiz

    World Bank Senior Country Economist, World Bank
    Sibel Kulaksiz is a Senior Country Economist with the World Bank where she is working at the Global Practice for Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management.
  • Eric Le Borgne

    Lead Economist, World Bank Group
    Eric LE BORGNE is a Lead Economist in the Macroeconomic and Fiscal Management Global Practice of the World Bank. He heads the Mashreq Economics Team covering Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Eric’s expertise lies in macroeconomic policy and his recent publications include systematic country diagnostics, economic and social impact assessment of conflict, long-term unemployment, fiscal risk, central bank independence, oil wealth management, decentralization, and tax policy. He holds a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Warwick.
  • Ewen Macleod

    Head of the Policy Development and Evaluation Service, UNHCR
    Ewen Macleod is currently head of the Policy Development and Evaluation Service at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. He has worked for the United Nations and the European Commission, holding both headquarters and field-based positions. Over the course of a thirty year career, he has worked on many complex humanitarian crises and protracted refugee situations in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
  • Mouayed Makhlouf

    Director Middle East and North Africa, IFC
    Mr. Mouayed Makhlouf is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa region at the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
  • Adnan Mazarei

    Deputy Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund
    Adnan Mazarei has extensive policy experience in the Middle East and has worked on economic policy for a large number of countries in that region. He now oversees the work on Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Somalia, and Syria, MCD’s strategy and communications.
  • Maya Raydan

    Sky News Arabia anchor
    Maya Raydan is an experienced editor and news presenter. She has worked for various TV and Radio stations as a presenter, reporter and editor. From 2008 onwards, Maya was a freelance journalist and worked with Radio Sawa, Business Pioneer Magazine and Air Arabia, before joining Sky News Arabia. Maya is a Lebanese national and has a Bachelor’s in Communication from the Lebanese University.
  • Joseph Saba

    Former World Bank Group Country Director
    Joseph Saba served for 14 years as Director for World Bank programs in the Middle East. He currently acts as Senior Advisor and Consultant to the World Bank for international programs in conflict and fragile states. He teaches Development Practice in Fragile and Conflict Affected States at Georgetown University and is Member of the Board of Directors of the American Near East Refugee Aid. Prior to his career in the World Bank, Mr. Saba was a partner at two law firms. He holds a J.D. degree from Yale Law School, an MA in Middle East Studies from Harvard University.
  • Haneen Ismail Sayed

    Program Leader, Mashreq Department, World Bank Group
    Haneen Sayed is Program Leader at the World Bank MENA Department covering Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran. Her sectors of responsibilities span education, health, social protection, labor, poverty, and gender, in addition to fragility and conflict. Haneen has more than 20 years of experience in leading dialogue and programs in human and economic development. She holds M.A. and M.Phil degrees in economics from Stanford and Columbia Universities.
  • John Speakman

    Advisor, Trade and Competitiveness, MENA, World Bank Group
  • Time: 8:30 AM - 1:45 PM EST Time
  • Location: The World Bank - MC 4-800