Shifting Sands

Author:Camilla Lund Andersen

Shifting Sands Finance & Development, December 2017, Vol. 54, No. 4

Camilla Lund Andersen

This issue of F&D focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, taking stock of the region’s rapid transformation since the uprisings of 2011—a period that raised the hopes of millions for a better future and caused despair for millions of others. 

The iron lid that had kept Arab societies artificially stable has been lifted, writes Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. The only path to stability and prosperity is through institution building, power sharing, and inclusive growth—requiring a new social contract between governments and their people. 

While political demands drove the uprisings, unresolved socioeconomic issues were the underlying cause, says the IMF's Jihad Azour. Seven years later, these problems remain largely unaddressed. With 60 percent of the region’s population under the age of 30, more jobs and better opportunities are essential for future stability. But that requires decisive action.  

Conflicts in the region have claimed an estimated half million lives since 2011 and displaced masses of others, leaving ruin in their wake, write IMF economists Phil de Imus, Gaëlle Pierre, and Björn Rother. In Syria, for instance, GDP today is estimated to be less than half...

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