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Jobs Undone: Reshaping the Role of Governments Toward Markets and Workers in the Middle East and North Africa Report Launch

May 16, 2022



Jobs Undone
Click the play button above to watch a replay of the event.

  • A decade after the Arab Spring raised hopes for greater job opportunities, youth employment remains a major challenge across the Middle East and North Africa region. 

    On May 16, the World Bank will launch a new report "Jobs Undone: Reshaping the Role of Governments toward Markets and Workers in the Middle East and North Africa." The report presents new evidence on the labor market, examines the key challenges facing private sector development that is crucial for job creation, and offers policy recommendations for how MENA governments can overcome continuing labor market stagnation.

    The event will bring together business leaders and youth representatives who will discuss the key challenges facing labor markets in the MENA region, as well as solutions to help the anticipated 300 million new job seekers who will enter the labor force by 2050.


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    Ferid Belhaj, Vice President, Middle East & North Africa, World Bank

    Opening remarks

    Ferid Belhaj has been the World Bank Group Vice President for Middle East and North Africa since July 1, 2018. Prior to this, Belhaj served 15 months as the Chief of Staff of the President of the World Bank Group. From 2012 to 2017, Belhaj was World Bank Director for the Middle East, in charge of World Bank work programs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran, based in Beirut, Lebanon. A Tunisian national, Belhaj joined the Bank in 1996 as Senior Counsel in the Legal Department, managing a number of legal and judicial reform projects. He also served as Bank Counsel for countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Algeria and Thailand.

    Federica Saliola

    Federica Saliola, Report Co-Author


    Federica Saliola is a Lead Economist in the Jobs Group of the World Bank. She leads several policy papers and reports, including the “Jobs after Covid” position paper, the Jobs Undone report, and the Jobs Flagship (her blogs). She is also the Program Manager of the Jobs Umbrella Multi-Donors Trust Fund. Previously, she was the co-Director of the World Development Report 2019 on The Changing Nature of Work.  She has published in peer-reviewed journals, including studies on firm productivity, global value chains, and the impact of regulation on growth and competition. She has also contributed to a number of World Bank reports, including the Environment for Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa Region and the Golden Growth: Restoring the Luster of the European Economic Model. She holds a PhD in Economics and a Laurea in Political Science from the University of Rome, La Sapienza.

    Sarah Hawilo

    Sarah Hawilo, CEO, serVme


    In 2015, Hawilo founded serVme, a data focused CRM platform that improves restaurant operations and delivers superior guest experience. The platform accesses and uses data to help venues better understand their customers, deliver superior service, and create unique experiences. The platform integrates with key systems and aggregates real-time analytics to help restaurateurs optimize operations and diner experiences, while maximizing profits. Prior to launching serVme, Hawilo spent five years working at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) servicing the Digital Business and Technology practice in the Middle East, where she worked on several digital and IT projects related to business intelligence, big data, and analytics. Hawilo also collaborates with many organizations in Dubai and Beirut that support and promote women entrepreneurs especially across the tech industry. In acknowledgment of her role as a leading entrepreneur in the MENA region, Hawilo was selected as one of 18 women for the global Cartier Women Initiative Awards, an international business competition in partnership by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD Business School.

    Zeena Majali

    Zeena Majali, Co-Founder, Crystel


    With a vision of changing the face of customer service experience in Jordan and the Middle East, Zeena Majali, in 2007 started her entrepreneurial journey by co-founding Crystel, the first independent multilingual outsourcing contact center in Jordan. Crystel currently employs around 2,000 Jordanian youth. To complement and enhance the work done in providing superior customer service, Zeena co-founded “Xina AI,” the first of its kind company in the Middle East specializing in Arabic speech synthesis and natural language understanding, with a vision to spearhead the transformation of customer experience in the Middle East by creating ground-breaking artificial intelligence technologies. As a serial entrepreneur, Zeena took a couple of businesses to hyper growth to scale them into multiple regions. She is also an angel investor whose interest is to invest in various service-tech and deep-tech AI businesses.

    Mouhamad Rabah

    Mouhamad Rabah, CEO, Beirut Digital District


    Mouhamad Rabah is the General Manager of ZRE, a leading property development company committed to building communities. Rabah currently serves as the CEO of Beirut Digital District (BDD), a 15-year vision to develop a “Work, Live, & Play” innovative, smart, sustainable regional cluster catered to the digital and creative communities. In 2018, he co-founded the BDD Academy, an incubator of educational programs that aims to develop the skillset of youth from all backgrounds to fulfill the digital and creative jobs of today and tomorrow. Rabah earned his master’s degree in science from the University of Texas at Austin and a civil engineering degree from the American University of Beirut.

    Tarek Talbi

    Tarek Talbi, CEO and Co-Founder, Orient Tea


    Talbi launched Orient Tea in 2013, with the help of local investor. The company manufactures hot beverages using local ingredients such as mint leaves processed by special machinery. The instant tea products are branded as Kyufi (the root of the word is “joy” in Arabic). Before launching Orient Tea, Talbi worked for Accenture Business Consulting in France as a strategy and organization consultant. In 2010, Talbi completed his master’s degree in business management at the École Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales.


    Michal Rutkowski, Global Director, Social Protection & Jobs, World Bank

    closing remarks

    Michal Rutkowski is the Global Director for Social Protection and Jobs – overseeing the World Bank’s work in developing systems that protect the poorest and vulnerable from crises and shocks, and supporting private sector-led growth.  Previously, Rutkowski served as the Director for Multilateral Organizations. He was also the Country Director for the Russian Federation and the Resident Representative in Moscow for three years.  Prior to joining the World Bank in 1990, he helped design the Polish pension system while serving as the Director of the Office for Social Security Reform. He also taught at the Institute of Economic Policy at the Warsaw School of Economics.  Rutkowski holds an M.Sc. and Ph.D from Warsaw School of Economics and finished his post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics. He also graduated from the Executive Development program at the Harvard Business School in 1999, and from the Leadership for Collective Intelligence program run by Dialogos in 2010. 


    Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


    Roberta Gatti is the Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region of the World Bank. In that role, she oversees analytical work to support the Bank’s operations and economic surveillance in countries in the region. In her previous capacity of Chief Economist for the Human Development practice group, she co-led the conceptualization and release of the World Bank Human Capital Index and oversaw the Service Delivery Indicators data initiative. Gatti joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Young Professional in the Macro unit of the Development Research Group. She has since led analytical agendas on growth, firm productivity, gender, social inclusion, and labor markets, including as the Global Lead for Labor policies.