By Amina El Farnawany
The World Bank’s board has suggested a new strategy to help countries of the Middle East reach stability after a period of political unrest and war.
The new strategy to assist the Middle East and North Africa will be based on four axes, said Hafez Ghanem, Vice President of the World Bank for Middle East and North Africa region, according to state-owned news agency MENA.
The first axis is renewing the social contract in order to enhance the country’s economy to provide job opportunities to the youth and better living conditions, said Ghanem.
He added that the bank would focus on enhancing the level of education, supporting small and medium-sized industries and developing poor areas such as Upper Egypt.
Ghanem spoke about the second axis of the strategy at a press conference held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington. He said more regional cooperation is required as the Arab region is one of the least regions with economical cooperation.
The bank seeks to support regional cooperation in the areas of education, water and energy, he said.
The third axis depends on providing assistance to countries in the region that host refugees such as Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Egypt. Additionally, creating economic opportunities for refugees is needed as there are around 15 million refugees and displaced people in the Arab region.
The fourth axis seeks to rebuild countries that have been affected by war. $170bn are needed for Syria’s reconstruction, $100bn are needed for Libya’s reconstruction, while reconstruction costs needed for Yemen are still being assessed.
The World Bank devoted $3.5bn last year to support development projects in the Middle East and will be increasing this number to $4m next year, said Ghanem.
He also pointed out that the World Bank is currently trying to find other ways to increase funding by making agreements with other funding institutions, such as the Islamic Development Bank, due to the enormous needs of the region.