Middle East

Saudi agricultural investment abroad - land grab or benign strategy?

On Fri, Oct 7, 2016

By: Kieran Cooke
Date: October 5th 2016
Source: Middle East Eye

After food costs spike, Saudis spent billions buying up farm land around the world. Who benefits exactly and can the spree continue?

hey control rice farms in Ethiopia, Sudan and the Philippines, cattle ranches in California and Arizona, wheat fields in Ukraine and Poland, ranches in Argentina and Brazil and shrimp producers in Mauritania.

Date of publication
Junio 2013
Geographical focus

In the Middle East and North Africa
Region, forest resources are generally limited, as is their
contribution to GDP, and it is for this reason their
importance is often overlooked. However, forestry's
contribution to natural resource and environmental
management, is significant, which should not be
underestimated. The report, implemented as an input to the
development of a Bank Forestry Strategy in guiding its work
in the sector, reviews the Bank-assisted forestry projects
in the region over the last ten years, defines the regional
forests, and describes its current status, and related
policy and economic issues, including the need of civil
society, and private sector involvement in forestry related
issues. It is highlighted that ultimately, the decisions
taken on the directions to be followed by the Bank, would be
based on sound knowledge of the overall regional aspects,
proposing Economic and Sector Work for the future. The
report outlines appropriate policy formulation and technical
solutions, but emphasizes that local communities must be
directly involved in the planning, implementation, and
monitoring of forestry development activities. This approach
implies that public administrations, responsible for
forestry development, become fully decentralized, and
capable of strengthening local capacity.

Date of publication
Mayo 2012
Geographical focus

This report is about how women
entrepreneurs can contribute more to the quality and
direction of economic and social development in the Middle
East and North Africa (MENA) region. Economic growth in the
Middle East has been remarkable since 2004, mainly because
of higher oil prices. Rapid job growth has followed, driven
mainly by the private sector. Yet the region still faces two
important challenges: the first is to create better jobs for
an increasingly educated young workforce; and the second is
to diversify its economies away from the traditional sectors
of agriculture, natural resources, construction, and public
works and into sectors that can provide more and better jobs
for young people (sectors that are more export oriented,
labor intensive, and knowledge driven). These goals can be
achieved only by more innovative and diverse investors. In
this, the private sector must play an even bigger role than
in the past.

Date of publication
Agosto 2013
Geographical focus

This book analyzes the development of
knowledge-based economies in the Middle East and North
Africa (MENA). Its principal messages are: Because of the
so-called "knowledge revolution" resulting from
the rapid growth in information and communication
technologies (ICT), the acceleration of technical change and
the intensification of globalization, a new form of economic
development is taking shape worldwide. The knowledge
revolution presents MENA countries with challenges and
opportunities. They need to take advantage of this new
source of growth and employment. To date, related
investments in education, information infrastructure,
research and development (R&D), and innovation have been
insufficient or inappropriate in most MENA countries.
Moreover, inadequate economic and institutional frameworks
prevent these investments from yielding desired results.
MENA countries risk falling further behind in the world
economy. Urgent action is needed to advance structural
reform and to intensify and adapt knowledge-related
investments. These messages concur with those of two
important recent reports on Arab economies by the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2002) and the World
Economic Forum (2003). While there seems to be agreement on
what needs to be done in the region, the question of how to
achieve the desired results is unfortunately often left
unexplored. This is to be the focus of further World Bank conferences.

Date of publication
Septiembre 2013
Geographical focus

This Policy Note discusses the status of
Forestry in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MNA) of
the Bank. The Policy Note is a product of the FAO Investment
Center in Rome, the International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI) and the Bank. Experience in natural
resource management shows that to adequately address
sustainable development, solutions must go beyond any single
sector, and be cross-sectoral. They must also go beyond
technical solutions to include legal and policy frameworks.
In the MNA Region, a large percentage of the population
lives in rural areas on primarily small pieces of land and
in the absence of other sources of revenue to supplement
their income. Also because many do not own their land, they
are without the means to improve their small land areas to
increase output and revenues, thus creating a dependence on
the natural resources.

Date of publication
Mayo 2012
Geographical focus

This paper examines broadly the
intergovernmental structure in the Middle East and North
Africa region, which has one of the most centralized
government structures in the world. The authors address the
reasons behind this centralized structure by looking first
at the history behind the tax systems of the region. They
review the Ottoman taxation system, which has been
predominantly influential as a model, and discuss its impact
on current government structure. They also discuss the
current intergovernmental structure by examining the type
and degree of decentralization in five countries
representative of the region: Egypt, Iran, West Bank/Gaza,
Tunisia, and Yemen. Cross-country regression analysis using
panel data for a broader set of countries leads to better
understanding of the factors behind heavy centralization in
the region. The findings show that external conflicts
constitute a major roadblock to decentralization in the region.

Date of publication
Agosto 2012
Geographical focus

Most of the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) cannot meet current water demand. Many countries face
full-blown crises, and the situation is likely to get even
worse. Estimates show that per capita water availability
will be cut in half by 2050, with serious consequences for
aquifers and natural hydrological systems. Demand for water
supplies and irrigation services will change as economies
grow and populations increase, with an attendant need to
address industrial and urban pollution. Some 60 percent of
the region's water flows across international borders,
further complicating the resource management challenge.
Rainfall patterns are predicted to shift as a result of
climate change. The social, economic, and budgetary
consequences of these challenges are enormous. The supply of
drinking water could become more erratic, necessitating
greater reliance on expensive desalination technologies, and
increasing drought would require emergency supplies brought
by tanker or barge. Service outages would put stress on
expensive network and distribution infrastructure.
Unreliable sources of irrigation water would depress farmer
incomes, economic and physical dislocation would increase
with the depletion of aquifers and unreliability of
supplies, and local conflicts could intensify. All of this
would have short- and long-term effects on economic growth
and poverty, exacerbate social tensions within and between
communities, and put increasing pressure on public budgets.

Date of publication
Marzo 2014
Geographical focus

The paper presents the key objectives
for the rehabilitation of historic centers or medinas in the
Middle East and North Africa as elaborated by the World Bank
on the basis of twenty years of past and present lending and
technical assistance operations to the governments of the
region. These are: 1) the conservation of the urban and
cultural heritage; 2) the local economic development of the
historic city; and 3) the improvement of the living
conditions of the resident population. The paper presents
some innovative ways to classify the contemporary users of
the medinas into different catagories which then become the
market segments to reach via the rehabilitation initiatives
given the readically changed present role of historic cities
as urban cores of much larger urban agglomerations.The paper
reviews the financial and fiscal instrucments that can be
used to mobilize the necessary resources, including the
roles of scaled up private sector investments and of
internaitonal development financing in support of national
and local governments. As sustainale culutral tourism I sput
forth as the main economic rationale for investment of
financial reosurces in medina rehabilitation, the paper also
presents an innovative multi-vriteria index to determine the
tourism potential of historic cities in the region, which
has been recently used in the case of Morocco for a national
strategy for the rehabilitation of its historic cities.

Date of publication
Marzo 2012
Geographical focus

Environmental degradation is costly, to
individuals, to societies, and to the environment. This
book, edited by Lelia Croitoru and Maria Sarraf, makes these
costs clear by examining a number of studies carried out
over the past few years by the World Bank's Middle East
and North Africa region. Even more important than estimating
the monetary cost of environmental degradation (COED),
however, are the clear guidance and policy implications
derived from these findings. This volume presents a new
approach to estimating the impacts of environmental
degradation. In the past, when government officials asked
researchers the simple question how large are the impacts of
environmental degradation? The response was often an
emphatic 'large!' a rather imprecise number. The
strength of this work is that it actually quantifies in
economic terms how large is 'large' and thereby
gains the attention of decision makers and offers specific
insights for improved policy making. Finally, this book
demonstrates the benefits of doing a coordinated, regional
COED analysis that builds on the country-level studies. This
two-tiered approach produces important synergies, in terms
of both the methodologies used and the lessons learned.

Date of publication
Mayo 2013
Geographical focus

The report starts with an introductory chapter that sets the stage for the issues and provides a short historical background on the development of the private sector in Middle East and North Africa (MENA), drawing on anecdotes and stories heard from many entrepreneurs and public officials consulted throughout the region during the preparation of this report. The core of the analysis is then presented in three parts. Part one assesses the performance of private sector development in the region from a macroeconomic and microeconomic standpoint (chapter two). It then presents the framework that is used to explain the identified performance gap (chapter three) and uses this framework in (chapter four) to claim that the lack of private sector dynamism in MENA is not necessarily due to insufficient reforms, but rather to the discretionary way in which rules and policies are implemented, and the lack of credibility of governments to really level the playing field when applying their policies and reforms. Part two then illustrates how this issue of poor implementation of the policies translates in three key policy areas in the business environment of the region: access to finance (chapter five), access to land (chapter six), and the conduct of industrial policies (chapter seven). The aim is to show how the role of the state and its institutions, when diverted from their regulatory and administrative missions by special interests and when subject to discretionary influence, can distort policies that may otherwise be well designed and well intended. Part three analyzes the political economy of reforms in MENA (chapter eight) and uses this analysis to offer a set of strategic recommendations and concrete policy actions that take into account the region's diversity and political economy (chapter nine).


Suscribirse a RSS - Middle East