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publication April 2, 2021

MENA Economic Update — Living with Debt: How Institutions Can Chart a Path to Recovery in the Middle East and North Africa


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This edition of the World Bank MENA Economic Update for Spring 2021 estimates that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s economies contracted by 3.8% in 2020, which is 1.3 percentage points above the World Bank forecasts in October 2020; however, the regional growth estimate is 6.4 percentage points lower than the pre-pandemic growth forecast published in October 2019.

The estimated accumulated cost of the pandemic, in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) losses by the end of 2021, will amount to $227 billion. The MENA region is expected to recover only partially in 2021, but that recovery is, in part, dependent on an equitable rollout of vaccines.

The substantial borrowing that MENA governments incurred to finance health and social protection measures increased government debt. Countries must continue spending on health and income transfers, which will add to already high debt burdens and lead to complicated policy decisions after the pandemic recedes.

For individual country economic growth briefs, click below:

Algeria | BahrainDjibouti | Egypt | IranIraq | Jordan | KuwaitLebanon | Libya Morocco | Oman | Palestinian Territories | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Tunisia | United Arab EmiratesYemen |