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MENA Tech: A New Social Contract in the Era of Digital Transformation in MENA

June 28, 2021




MENA Tech is a series of events to engage with high-level decision makers, policymakers, regulators, private sector business leaders, and influencers, to share a vision for accelerating digital transformation and strategies that have successfully fostered digital government and digital businesses.

  • MENA countries are still struggling with an unsustainable social contract. The state has a strong role to play, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, but is often hampered by corruption, a lack of transparency, and inefficient service delivery, leading to a decline in public trust. This social contract needs to be renegotiated, re-engineered, and renewed, to place people at the center, engage citizens themselves in solutions they seek, and foster a sense of joint accountability.

    Digital transformation is and should be a key driver of accelerating and enforcing this social contract. This is the time to rethink the social contract in MENA with digital transformation as a crucial enabler for anti-corruption, transparency, public participation that will strengthen trust, improve the quality of services and serve as a cornerstone of a reconstructed social contract.

    Building on two previous high-level discussions, the third MENA Tech webinar will focus on digital transformation drivers and enablers of a new social contract that addresses accountable service delivery, transparency, and effective citizen engagement.



    Welcome and Introduction


    Video Clip – Leapfrog MENA economies through digital transformation


    Welcome note
    Mr. Nadir Mohammed, Regional Director, Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank



    Opening Keynote Why digital transformation is a must to rethinking the Social Contract in MENA?

    Mr. Ferid Belhaj, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


    Panel Discussion


    Moderator: Mr. Paul Noumba Um, Regional Director, Infrastructure, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


    Panel Discussion

    • H.E. Ahmad Al-Hanandah, Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    • Ms. Saloua Ghazouani Oueslati, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa, Article 19
    • Mr. Charbel Fakhoury, Founding Partner Eureka 460 and former Vice President, Microsoft
    • Mr. Ferid Belhaj, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


    Moderated discussion (open for Q&A)


    Main takeaways:

    • Mr. Nadir Mohammed, Regional Director, Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


    Closing remarks:

    Mr. Ferid Belhaj, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


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    Ferid Belhaj is the World Bank Group Vice President for Middle East and North Africa since July 2018. Prior to this, Ferid served in several different position at the Bank including as the Chief of Staff of the President of the World Bank Group; as the Director for the Middle East in charge of World Bank work programs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran, based in Beirut, Lebanon; and as the World Bank’s Special Representative to the United Nations in New York. A Tunisian national, Ferid joined the Bank in 1996 as Senior Counsel in the Legal Department, managing legal and judicial reform projects, and serving as the Bank Counsel for countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Algeria and Thailand.


    Mr. Nadir Mohammed is the Regional Director for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the World Bank. Dr Mohammed joined the Bank in 1998 and since, served in different positions including the Director of Strategy and Operations in the Human Development Practice Group, as well as the Global Practices for education; health, nutrition and population; and social protection and jobs. From 2014-2018, he served as the Country Director of the GCC Countries in the MENA region. Prior to joining the Bank, Dr. Mohammed worked at the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.


    Mr. Paul Noumba Um is the Regional Director for Infrastructure, Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank. An infrastructure, ICT and private sector expert with over three decades of experience, Paul has advised public and private sector partners on energy security and efficiency, transportation, telecommunication, good governance, PPP and privatization. Dr. Noumba Um has held several positions at the Bank, most recently as the Country Director for Southern Africa and as the Country Director for Mali, Chad, Guinea, Central Africa Republic and Niger. He joined the Bank in 1998 in the then Energy, Mining, and Telecommunication Department.


    H.E. Ahmad Al-Hanandah is the Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship of Jordan since October 2020. His mission is to enable transformation pillars including digital entrepreneurship, digital skills, digital financial services, infrastructure and platforms.  Minister Al-Hanandah has over 27 years of experience in various industries and leading telecommunications companies that include Aramex and Zain, where he respectively served as country manager with Aramex's Asian stations and Chief Executive Officer of Zain Jordan. He is also a board member of various organization such as the Crown Prince Foundation and the Jordan Olympic Committee.


    Ms. Saloua Ghazouani Oueslati is the Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Article 19. She has 16 years of experience working in non-governmental and multi-lateral organizations, including the UNDP in Tunisia and the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR). Ms Saloua holds an MSc in Information and Communication by the Institute of Press and Information Sciences in Tunisia. Since joining ARTICLE 19 in 2012, she has been leading the organization's programs on freedom of expression, media reform and access to information in Tunisia and gradually in the MENA region.


    Mr. Charbel Fakhoury is the Founding Partner Eureka 460, a global investment company in tech-startups across health-tech, fin-tech, core-tech, and automotive sectors and former Vice President of Microsoft. He currently serves as both a member of the board of advisors at the American University of Beirut Olayan School of Business and a member of the Lebanese International Finance Executives (LIFE) Beirut executive committee. Charbel recently held the position of Vice President, Microsoft, for Global Professional Services Pursuit Organization (2017-2020) covering America, Europe, and Asia. Prior to this, Charbel led Sun Microsystems business in the Levant region and the Automation and Computer Technologies sales marketing and services team in Lebanon.


  • Time: 1:00 – 2:30 GMT / 9:00 – 10:30 ET
  • Language : Discussions will be conducted in English. French and Arabic interpretation will be available.