Evidence of Prehistoric Hunting across Arabian Desert

Evidence of Prehistoric Hunting across Arabian Desert

Oxford archaeologists discover monumental evidence of prehistoric hunting across the Arabian desert. 

They have found over 350 Monumental Hunting Structures labelled and since then known as ‘Kites’ In Northern Saudi Arabia And Southern Iraq Using Satellite Imagery.

Evidence of Prehistoric Hunting across Arabian Desert

Evidence of Prehistoric Hunting across Arabian Desert

Distribution of kite structures in the Levant and in northern Arabia. White: previously documented kites. Red: kites recorded by EAMENA.

 

Archaeologists at the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology have used satellite imagery to identify and map over 350 monumental hunting structures known as ‘kites’ across northern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq – most of which had never been previously documented.

Led by Dr Michael Fradley, a team of researchers in the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project used a range of open-source satellite imagery to carefully study the region around the eastern Nafud desert, an area little studied in the past. The surprising results, published in the journal The Holocene, have the potential to change our understanding of prehistoric connections and climate change across the Middle East.

Termed kites by early aircraft pilots, these structures consist of low stone walls making up a head enclosure and a number of guiding walls, sometimes kilometres long. They are believed to have been used to guide game such as gazelles into an area where they could be captured or killed. There is evidence that these structures may date back as far as 8,000 BCE in the Neolithic period.

Kites cannot be observed easily from the ground, however the advent of commercial satellite imagery and platforms such as Google Earth have enabled recent discoveries of new distributions. While these structures were already well-known from eastern Jordan and adjoining areas in southern Syria, these latest results take the known distribution over 400km further east across northern Saudi Arabia, with some also identified in southern Iraq for the first time.

Dr Fradley said: ‘The structures we found displayed evidence of complex, careful design. In terms of size, the ‘heads’ of the kites can be over 100 metres wide, but the guiding walls (the ’strings’ of the kite) which we currently think gazelle and other game would follow to the kite heads can be incredibly long. In some of these new examples, the surviving portion of walls run in almost straight lines for over 4 kilometres, often over very varied topography. This shows an incredible level of ability in how these structures were designed and built.’

 

 

 

Evidence suggests considerable resources would have had to be coordinated to build, maintain, and rebuild the kites over generations, combined with hunting and returning butchered remains to settlements or camps for further preservation. The researchers suggest that their exaggerated scale and form may be an expression of status, identity and territoriality. Appearances of the kites in rock art found in Jordan suggests they had an important place within the symbolic and ritual spheres of Neolithic peoples in the region.

 

 

 

From the design of the kite heads to the careful runs of guiding walls over long distances, these structures contrast markedly in scale with any other evidence of architecture from the early Holocene period. The researchers suggest that the builders of these kites dwelt in temporary structures made from organic materials that have left no trace visible on current satellite imagery data.

Desert kite research is a very active field just now – Michael and colleagues explore a significant extension to their distribution pattern, which has major implications for our understanding of the relationship of the kite builders with new mobile pastoralists and the occupation of the region.

Bill Finlayson, Director of EAMENA and Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Oxford 

 

These new sites suggest a previously unknown level of connection right across northern Arabia at the time they were built. They raise exciting questions about who built these structures, who the hunted game were intended to feed, and how the people were able to not only survive, but also invest in these monumental structures.

In the context of this new connectedness, the distribution of the star-shaped kites now provides the first direct evidence of contact through, rather than around, the Nafud desert. This underlines the importance areas that are now desert had under more favourable climatic conditions in enabling the movement of humans and wildlife. It is thought the kites were built during a wetter, greener climatic period known as the Holocene Humid Period (between around 9000 and 4000 BCE).

The largest number of kites were built on the Al Labbah plateau in the Nafud desert, where the absence of later Bronze Age burial monuments suggests that a shift into a drier period meant some of these areas became too marginal to support the communities once using these landscapes, with game species also potentially displaced by climate change.

Whether the patterns of kite construction over space and time represent the movement of ideas or people, or even the direction of that movement, remain questions to be answered.

The project, supported by the Arcadia Fund, is now extending its survey work across these now arid zones to further develop our understanding of these landscapes and the effect of climate change.

The study Following the herds? A new distribution of hunting kites in Southwest Asia is published in The Holocene.

Read University of Oxford News & Events

 

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Unlocking Peace Ministry in the Middle East

Unlocking Peace Ministry in the Middle East

All MENA countries, derived from the XIX and early XX centuries, acquired this capability when policing their citizens, identifying any person protesting their government without due process. The same applies to interstate relations where transboundary resources and interests of any kind envenom and more often inflame situations. So, at this conjecture, is it not the opportune time to at least try unlocking a Peace Ministry in the Middle East?

 

Unlocking Peace Ministry in the Middle East: Announcing the Middle East Consultation 2022

 

 

Everything is affected whenever peace is missing. Absolutely everything! Conflict has a way of harming all areas of the human experience. We all know too well the pain and confusion undermining peace throughout our nations, our communities, and our own souls in regrettable ways. It disorients and forces us to grapple with the seemingly overwhelming gravity of sin and the depth of its consequences. For this reason, God really, really cares about peace.

Seeking peace is essential to God’s story for humanity. Scripture demonstrates the extent to which conflict infects a fallen world while also declaring the length God goes for the sake of peace. This didn’t happen without sacrifice; Jesus Christ endured the extreme weight of conflict as he hung on the cross. And it was on this journey to the cross that he shared eternal words with his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This is a perplexing type of comfort. Jesus is perfectly aware that our hearts will face trouble and fear in an uncertain world, but he assures us that the only kind of peace that can suffice is an otherworldly peace. Because of this, we have hope amid the storms of strife.

It can feel like the Middle East invents ever creative ways to undermine peace as people across the region deal with struggling societies, mounting insecurities, dirty politics, violent factionalism, destructive ideologies, and wave after wave of crisis. The problems fill headlines and reports throughout ceaseless cycles of bad news. Residents struggle through chronic frustration and disillusion, and growing numbers are joining a migration outflow seeking better fortunes in new locations.

Christ followers across the Middle East face their own flavors of conflict. Egypt encounters layers of challenges as churches and Christian groups serve amid rapidly changing times. In Algeria churches struggle to forge faith communities against the grain of a suppressive government. Christians of Iraq continue to navigate decades-long strife while trying to nurture one another and serve their neighbors. In Palestine, occupation and oppression hinder the most basic areas of human life and fuel hardships of many kinds. Sudan’s believers are dealing with rapidly changing political situations after years of regime change and upheaval. And in Lebanon, new layers of crisis pile upon old, unresolved conflicts to destabilize a state and its people. Unfortunately, these are only brief samples of the range of conflict raging across the region. It can all seem so overwhelming, and in the darkest moments cries go out, “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1).

Though it doesn’t come easily, we must insist on recognizing the profound ways God’s people can and do faithfully minister peace amid challenging situations. Churches, organizations, and individuals of faith are ready vessels for extending Christ’s peace; they possess the potential by the Spirit to alter situations and write new stories for people and places. Is this not what it means to take hold of the peace that Christ leaves? This among the many questions the Middle East Consultation 2022 aims to ask on September 21-23 during Peace I Leave with You: Theories and Practices for Peace Ministry in the Middle East.

Practicing effective peace ministry requires us to imagine peace in ways that conform our thoughts and attitudes to the person of Christ in service of others. Biblically, peace ministry can be understood as the work of unlocking human potential by moving people, communities, and nations into healthier dynamics of shared life. Such outreach proceeds from deep convictions that the gospel is a holistic response to any situation where sin inflicts strife, oppression, hatred, and mistrust- everything antithetical to the restorative work of God.

Paradigms for peace ministry can help us recognize how peace involves multidimensional expressions (peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding) working across levels of the human experience, including the personal, group, and national. The following grid, which MEC 2022 will adopt as a basic working framework, helps conceptualize this dynamic:

National Peacekeeping National Peacemaking National Peacebuilding
Group Peacekeeping Group Peacemaking Group Peacebuilding
Personal Peacekeeping Personal Peacemaking Personal Peacebuilding

Such a framework is helpful, but it certainly cannot convey the complexity of engaging conflict. There are no simple explanations or quick solutions to the problems plaguing the Middle East. Each unique context in the region carries assorted variables that require us to ask a proper set of questions. Worldly logic may say peace is an elusive dream or unattainable ideal, but authentic faith in Christ compels us to take hold of the gospel’s promises of peace as we seek to discover how God is active and alive in the world. Our eschatological hope for the future moves us to action as we relish the words of Isaiah 9:7: There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.

God is working through conflict for redemptive purposes, and everyone has a role to play in this. This means embracing the invitation to partner with God in living out Christ-honoring works of peace and continually exploring new ways to think about the theories and practices of peace ministry.

On September 21-23, the Middle East Consultation 2022 will do just this in the three-day online event Peace I Leave with You: Theories and Practices for Peace Ministry in the Middle EastJoin us for a series of enriching discussions examining the challenges facing the Middle East region and illuminating the hopefulness of peace for the world in and through Christ.

Read Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.

Apply for MEC 2022 today!

Factbox: What became of the ‘Arab Spring’?

Factbox: What became of the ‘Arab Spring’?

In a would-be factbox enumeration, what became of the ‘Arab Spring’ by is explored in the aftermath of the not-so-well-mediatised people’s mass movements in specific countries of the MENA, Here is perhaps the exception give or take a few other countries such as Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, etc. 

July 25 (Reuters) – Tunisian President Kais Saied is set to secure more power under a new constitution that is expected to pass in a referendum on Monday, in what critics fear is a march to one-man rule over a country that rose up against dictatorship in 2010. read more

Saied’s opponents fear the changes will deal a major blow to democracy in Tunisia, widely seen as the only success story of the “Arab Spring” uprisings against autocratic rule that elsewhere ended in renewed repression and civil wars.

Here’s a recap of how the Arab Spring panned out for the countries affected:

TUNISIA

Fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire on Dec. 17, 2010 after a local official confiscated his barrow.

Protests spread from his town, Sidi Bouzid, across the country, turning deadly. President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled on Jan. 14, 2011, inspiring revolts elsewhere.

Factbox: What became of the 'Arab Spring'?

Police officers control the crowd while surrounding a man suspected to be involved in opening fire on a beachside hotel in Sousse, as a woman reacts, Tunisia June 26, 2015. REUTERS/Amine Ben Aziza

Tunisia held a first democratic election that October, won by the moderate Islamist Ennahda which had been banned under Ben Ali.

A new constitution establishing a parliamentary system was agreed in 2014, and Tunisians choose their lawmakers and president in free and fair elections, most recently in 2019.

However, economic troubles caused hardship and disillusionment. Illegal emigration to Europe increased. The economy, heavily dependent on tourism, was hit particularly hard by COVID-19.

In July 2021, President Kais Saied froze parliament and sacked the government – moves his opponents called a coup but which were welcomed by those Tunisians who were fed up with political bickering and paralysis. read more

A year later, Saied called a referendum on a new constitution that strengthened the presidency, capping what his opponents called a march to one-man rule. Saied has said freedoms will be protected. read more

EGYPT

President Hosni Mubarak had been in power since 1981, but massive anti-government protests began on Jan. 25, 2011 as activists called a “day of rage”, inspired by Tunisia. As hundreds of thousands of protesters massed after Friday prayers three days later, Mubarak deployed the military.

Factbox: What became of the 'Arab Spring'?

Egyptians rally at Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo February 1, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Protests gathered momentum, and the army pulled its forces from the protests and Mubarak stepped down – to be tried in August on charges of abusing power and killing demonstrators.

The once-banned Muslim Brotherhood won the 2012 election but a year later the military, encouraged by anti-Brotherhood protests, toppled the new president, Mohamed Mursi, who was put in prison and died in 2019.

Army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi replaced him as president. Rights groups documented abuses in a crackdown on dissent and the military faced a long-running insurgency from Islamist militants in Sinai.

Mubarak died a free man in 2020 aged 91, the case against him having been dropped in 2014.

YEMEN

Crowds took to the streets against President Ali Abdullah Saleh from Jan. 29, 2011, aggravating splits in the army and between political blocs. Saleh was hurt in an assassination attempt in June 2011, forcing him to seek treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Gulf states brokered a transition deal including a “national dialogue” aimed at resolving Yemen’s problems, with Saleh’s old deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to be president until elections.

With an al Qaeda insurgency raging in the east, Sanaa faced new problems in the north from the Iran-allied Houthi group and from a revived southern secessionist movement.

In 2015, after the Houthis seized Sanaa, Saudi Arabia and its allies began a military campaign to keep Hadi in power – a war that soon reached bloody stalemate, aggravating food shortages and cholera outbreaks.

Ex-president Saleh was killed in a roadside attack in 2017 after switching sides, abandoning the Iran-aligned Houthis for the Saudi-led coalition.

A U.N.-backed ceasefire took effect in April, 2022 and Hadi, who had spent years in exile in Saudi Arabia, was replaced by a presidential council.

LIBYA

In first Benghazi and then Misrata, protests broke out in February, 2011, soon turning to armed revolt against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.

In March, the United Nations Security Council declared a no-fly zone to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces and NATO started air strikes to halt their advance on Benghazi.

By August, rebels had seized Tripoli and in October Gaddafi was captured hiding in a drainpipe outside his hometown of Sirte and killed.

Local militias seized hold of territory and, as chaos took hold, the country split in 2014 between western and eastern factions. The U.N. helped broker a political agreement in 2015, but in practice the country stayed divided and Islamic State seized control of Sirte for more than a year.

In 2019 eastern commander Khalifa Haftar launched a new war, assaulting Tripoli for 14 months before his forces turned back. By now the conflict was international, with Russia, the UAE and Egypt backing Haftar and Turkey the Tripoli government.

A U.N.-backed election – part of a peace process aimed at knitting Libya back together – was cancelled in December, 2021 for reasons including disputes over the rules.

In March 2022, the Sirte-based parliament appointed a new prime minister but the government based in Tripoli refused to step down, leaving Libya split between rival administrations.

BAHRAIN

On Feb. 14, 2011, the biggest protests in years erupted in Bahrain as demonstrators echoed the Egyptian crowd’s call for a “day of rage” to demand the ruling monarchy grant democracy.

As protesters and police clashed over the coming weeks, sectarian tensions rose in a country where many majority Shi’ite Muslims had long chafed against the Sunni ruling dynasty.

On March 14, neighbouring Sunni kingdom Saudi Arabia sent tanks across the causeway linking it to Bahrain to guard major installations. The authorities declared martial law and cleared protesters from the camp that had become their symbol.

Protests continued for months, leading to at least 35 deaths, but the monarchy suppressed the uprising and restored control.

SYRIA

When the first protests began to spread through Syria in March, 2011, President Bashar al-Assad sent in security forces and there was a wave of arrests and shootings.

Factbox: What became of the 'Arab Spring'?

A youth with his back painted with the colours of Syria’s opposition flag marches during a demonstration demanding that relatives of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh be dismissed from senior army and police posts in Sanaa May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

By July, protesters were taking up arms and army units were joining the gathering revolt, later backed by Gulf monarchies and Turkey, as Assad hit back with air strikes. Full-blown war erupted.

As chaos engulfed the country, the Islamic State group in 2014 seized a swathe of territory, drawing a U.S.-led coalition to back Kurdish fighters in the northeast.

Support from Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah movement helped Assad claw back control over much of the country, defeating the rebels in areas including Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta from 2015-18.

By the end of the decade, hundreds of thousands were dead and more than half the country’s pre-war population was displaced with the country partitioned between Assad, Turkey-backed rebels and Kurdish-led groups.

Writing by Angus McDowall and Tom Perry; Editing by William Maclean

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Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without independent . . .

Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without independent . . .

The Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without an independent Palestinian state, as per the latest outburst of the King of Jordan, whereas and better still, in our personal and would be impartial view, a confederation of the three implicated states: i.e. Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

This could bring the most synergy in all domains of life for everyone in the region as well as in the world.

The world’s leading elites and all concerned immediate and full attention should be focused on the current climate change and how to somehow alleviate it.   

But first, let’s see what the Jordan News Agency (Petra) reports.

 

King: Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without independent Palestinian state

 

 

 

Jeddah, July 16 (Petra) — His Majesty King Abdullah on Saturday, stressed that there can be no security, stability, nor prosperity in the region without a solution guaranteeing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.

In remarks at the Jeddah Security and Development Summit, attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, King Abdullah said economic cooperation must include the Palestinian National Authority to ensure the success of regional partnerships.

“We must examine opportunities for cooperation and collective action, in pursuit of regional integration in food security, energy, transport, and water,” His Majesty added, noting that Jordan is keen on transforming these opportunities into real partnerships in the region.

Following is the English translation of the King’s remarks at the Jeddah Security and Development Summit, which brought together members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United States, Egypt, and Iraq, as well as Jordan:

“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad.

Your Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, Mr President, Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

It is my pleasure to start by thanking my brother Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for the gracious invitation, the warm welcome, and the hosting of this well-organised Summit.

Mr President, Thank you for your participation in this Summit. Your presence today is a testament to the United States’ dedication to the stability of our region and our close and historic partnership. It underlines your leading role and efforts to bolster regional security and support peace and prosperity.

Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, We meet today as our region and the world face multiple challenges, from the economic repercussions of the COVID pandemic, and the ramifications of the Ukrainian crisis on energy and food, to the continuous conflicts that our region suffers from.

Therefore, we must examine opportunities for cooperation and collective action, in pursuit of regional integration in food security, energy, transport, and water.

We in Jordan are keen on transforming these opportunities into real partnerships in the region, by capitalising on our historical and deep-rooted ties with Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and our brothers in Egypt and Iraq, in service of the interests of our peoples. We embark on these efforts out of our belief that the only way forward is through collective action.

For we in Jordan continue to host over one million Syrian refugees, providing them with various humanitarian, health, and education services, while also countering the renewed security threats on our borders, by thwarting attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons, which now pose a major threat to the entire region.

We shoulder these responsibilities on behalf of the international community, which must carry on with its role in countering the impact of the refugee crisis on refugees and host communities.

Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, To ensure the success of the regional partnerships that we seek, economic cooperation must include our brothers in the Palestinian National Authority.

And here, we must reaffirm the importance of reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on the basis of the two-state solution; for there can be no security, stability, nor prosperity in the region without a solution guaranteeing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.

In conclusion, I again thank my brother Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their great efforts to enhance this cooperation and coordination, in service of our region and our world.

And I thank President Biden, once again, for his ongoing efforts to work towards peace, security, and prosperity in our region and our world. Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.”

//Petra// AA
16/07/2022 15:15:46

Arab Human Development Report 2022: Expanding Opportunities

Arab Human Development Report 2022: Expanding Opportunities

Arab Human Development Report 2022: Expanding Opportunities for an Inclusive and Resilient Recovery in the Post-Covid Era

Post-Covid Recovery, an opportunity to boost development in the region. Responsive governance, more diversified economies, inclusive societies, and a green transformation critical to achieving sustainable, inclusive development and prevent future shocks and disasters

29 June 2022

 

 

The report contends that a sound recovery from the impact of the pandemic in the region will require a concerted effort to protect the vulnerable, empower citizens, strengthen human rights, ensure the rule of law, and make systems more effective and responsive.

UNDP PAPP

 

 

New York – As they pursue pathways to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Arab States should strengthen capacities and build effective and trustworthy institutional structures that can support a new social contract and enable societies to cope with future shocks and disasters—according to the Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) 2022 that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched today.

“Many countries in the Arab States region are still struggling to contend with the devastating socio-economic effects of COVID-19, now compounded by an unprecedented global food, energy and finance crisis that is being precipitated by the tragic war in Ukraine,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “This new report analyses how countries across the region can get hard-won human development gains back on track through concerted efforts in four key areas. That includes building diversified and competitive economies; shaping accountable and responsive governments founded upon the protection of human rights; nurturing inclusive and cohesive societies; and driving forward a green recovery with sustainable human development at its core.”

Produced by UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS), the AHDR 2022 is entitled “Expanding Opportunities for an Inclusive and Resilient Recovery in the Post-Covid Era.” It is the seventh in the AHDR series, marking 20 years of keen analysis of development challenges and opportunities across the Arab States region since the launch of the seminal AHDR in 2002.

The report reviews impacts of the pandemic on human development across the region, as well as actions taken by Arab States to contain the outbreak and mitigate its most adverse impacts on people and the economy.  The AHDR 2022 argues that getting human development back on track in the post-pandemic era will require greater efforts to make governance systems more accountable and re­sponsive, economies more diversified and competi­tive, and societies more cohesive and inclusive—in order to ensure a resilient recovery for all.

“The Arab States region has been experiencing various vulnerabilities and is notable for a diverse range of development contexts– but the rapid onset of the global pandemic challenged all to varying degrees, presenting new challenges, and exacerbating vulnerabilities. But as the report tells us, vulnerabilities are not our destiny” said Khalida Bouzar, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of RBAS. “Full of potential and brimming with innovative efforts, the region adopted many positive response measures that could be expanded and scaled-up beyond the Covid response. Knowledge and solutions to tackle the region’s challenges exist. Many are known and have been tested and shown to work. Our collective endeavour now is to create the conditions to allow these efforts to blossom and reach fruition.”

The AHDR 2022 contends that human ca­pabilities and human freedoms are enhanced by ac­countable and responsive governments, diversified and resilient economies, and cohesive and inclusive societies. Hence, the report’s focus on examining impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and measures adopted to contain its implications across the spheres of governance, economy, society, and the environment—considering underlying long-standing development challenges that the region has struggled with prior to the pandemic.

Trust in government is critical to Covid response

The report observes that the efficacy of responses to the pandemic across the diverse development contexts in the region was related to levels of institutional capacity and coordination between government agencies.

For example, Gulf Cooperation Council governments succeed­ed in bringing the pandemic outbreak under control, displaying an average recovery rate that was significantly higher than the global aver­age. Middle-income countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia were relatively successful in handling the first wave of the outbreak but loosened their control afterward. Countries in crises had limited capacity to mitigate impacts of Covid-19 outbreaks because of the destruction of their health in­frastructure, displacement or migration of health-care workers, breakdown of social relations and accumulating economic challenges.

During Covid, limited trust in government institutions was reflected in pushback against Covid-19 containment measures and high rates of vaccine hesitancy, a trend observed across different regions globally.

The report also notes that some governments expanded their executive pow­ers through emergency regulations to respond to Covid-19 and protect communities from its impacts. This was sometimes done, given the rapidly evolving context, with limited oversight mechanisms in place. Some put in place new meas­ures that affect civic freedoms, including regulations that expanded digital surveillance of citizens in certain instances. Others applied greater controls of free expression and the media, including social media, under the guise of fighting misinformation. The report cites that the percentage of citizens who believe that freedom of speech is guaranteed to a great or medium extent has declined by 20 percentage points since 2016, from 63 percent to 43 percent in the region.

Rising debt levels may last for a while

The report underscores that the region’s economy contracted by around 4.5 percent in 2020, with fragile and conflict-affected countries experiencing the larg­est average drop—around 15 percent. Despite positive signs at the end of 2021, the report notes that an ac­celerated recovery in 2022 is unlikely, given emerging challenges facing the region. With an average expected growth rate of 5.5 percent for the whole re­gion, driven mainly by the performance of oil-exporting countries, economic growth may continue to be challenging.

During the first year of the pandemic, existing large fiscal deficits widened further across the region, with falling revenues, due to dwindling oil demand, and rising financing needs for containing the pandemic and its economic impacts on households and businesses. In 2020, the average overall deficit widened by 7 percentage points, to 9.2 percent of GDP, while in 2021 the region’s average fiscal deficit narrowed to 2.3 percent and is expected to turn into a surplus of 4.1 percent of GDP in 2022.

Large fiscal deficits have increased government debt, worsening an already vulnerable debt position. In 2020, the region’s overall average government debt peaked at 60 percent of GDP, up around 13 percentage points from 2019. Over the medium term, government debt as a percentage of GDP is projected to rise sub­stantially and remain above 2019 levels for the ma­jority of countries in the region. Net flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the re­gion fell by 6 percent in 2020.

In 2021, unemploy­ment rose to 12.6 in the Arab States region, more than double the world average of 6.2 percent. Female labour force participation rates were among the lowest in the world, at 20.3 percent in the Arab States region in 2019. Women’s unemployment rate remained at 24 percent the Arab States region, still three to four times the world average.

In 2021, the region had the world’s highest youth unemployment rate (15-24 years old), at 28.6 percent, rising steeply from 25.3 percent in 2019. The unemployment rate among young women was also the highest in the world, and over twice the figure among young men, reaching 49.1 in 2021 from 44.7 percent in 2019 (compared to 23.8 percent among young men in 2021 and 20.8 percent in 2019).

It is important to note that many of these challenges mirror global trends in the currently volatile context, with a slump in global growth forecast for 2022 and growth across many regions decelerating even further than in the Arab States region.

Widening inequalities

The pandemic has led to widening existing inequalities and exacerbated exclusion, particularly from access to healthcare and education. The report points out that prior to the pandemic, inadequate public financ­ing had placed the burden of healthcare on patients. Out-of-pocket spending averaged 28 percent of household spending in the region, compared with 18 percent worldwide—but with significant var­iations from a low of 6.6 percent in Oman to a high of 81 percent in Yemen.

This reflects the severity of the impact of the pandemic, given this increasing burden was witnessed despite the Arab States region being one of the only regions in the developing world to increase health spending as a share of GDP in the decade prior to the pandemic.

Large percentages of the region’s sizeable refugee and internally dis­placed populations experienced greater difficulty getting medical care during the pandemic outbreak. Host governments in the Arab States re­gion did not include refugees in their national Covid-19 plans, with the notable exception of Jordan.

Following the pandemic outbreak, school closures and the transition to distance education led to the exclusion of significant segments of society. For example, only 55 percent of surveyed children who were enrolled in education in Algeria, Egypt, Jor­dan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, and Tunisia prior to the pandemic were able to access some form of remote learning after schools were physically closed. Access to distance learning has been higher among students in private schools than public schools. Major inequali­ties in internet access between and within Arab States meant that school closures had a disproportionate negative impact on more vulnerable households, rural and marginalized communities, including refu­gee and IDP children and children with disabilities—increasing the risk of child labour and early marriage among girls.

The report highlights that prior to the pandemic, the inadequacy of care policies, social care service provision, and gendered social norms have contributed to women’s disproportionate burden of unpaid care work in the region, with women devoting 5.1–6.2 times more time than men to unpaid care work in West Asia and North Africa, which is much higher than the world average of 3.2 times. Consistent with global trends, the pandemic has led to a rise in unpaid care responsibili­ties in households across the region, with most of the burden falling on women. The report also records the alarming trend of rising rates of domestic violence targeting women associated with pandemic-induced mobility restrictions, finan­cial stress, and disruptions in access to support services.

Many of these challenges are also witnessed across multiple regions. Governments in the Arab States could take advantage of the current multiple crises to ensure that the recovery promotes sustainable and equitable development.

Opportunity for a green transition

The report estimates that the pandemic resulted in a 5 percent increase in water demand in 2020 for intensified hygiene practices, adding pressures on already scare water supplies across the region, where 18 of the 22 Arab States face serious levels of water scarcity and the average person receives just one-eighth of the global average renewable water per person. The report calls for prioritizing improved water governance and enhanced waste management as key components for post-Covid recovery to be sustainable and resilient.

The AHDR 2022 views with optimism, a growing momentum in the region to diversify beyond the fossil fuel economy and accelerate the transition to renewable energy and energy-efficient solutions. The renewable energy sector has been the only segment of the Arab energy market to experience notable growth, due to its cost-effectiveness and strategic value for carbon-constrained economies. The report singles out solar energy as a strategic asset for diversifying energy consumption, enhancing energy security and building the knowledge-based, high-tech, youth employment–generating economy of the future.

Mainstreaming green solutions into recovery strategies of Arab States is an important opportunity, which can help the region slow negative ecological change and build resilience against future shocks. The report suggests that Global summits can be instrumental in studying the challenges of climate change and envi­ronmental degradation and advancing tangible solu­tions, as with the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conferences of the Parties (COP) that will be hosted by Egypt in 2022 (COP27) and the United Arab Emirates in 2023 (COP28).

Glimmers of hope

The Report records notable examples of positive responses to the Covid-19 pandemic across the Arab States region. It points to instances where rapid gov­ernment action mitigated some of the worst devel­opment impacts. This included adopting stimulus and support packages to support domestic economic activity; providing direct relief to enterprises, particularly small and medium ones; and financing measures to protect workers through paid leave, unemployment benefits and cash transfers, especially targeting informal workers.

The report also notes successes with effective governance solutions in response to the pandemic, such as the adoption of swift coordination measures to ensure multi-sectoral responses involving nationwide whole-of-government responses in high-income Arab countries. Similarly, other countries adopted arrangements to allow for inclusive participation of local government, civil society, private sector, and communities in national response plans, expanding authorities of local government to take measures to ensure continuity of essential services and to identify and reach out to vulnerable groups.

The report also traces how social solidarity movements and civil society organiza­tions quickly mobilized in response to the pandemic’s challenges, filling gaps in awareness raising, expanding community outreach efforts to help cushion the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the most marginalized and vulnerable groups, and unleashing the power of frontline volunteers to complement strained health and social services systems.

Many governments in the region effectively resorted to digitalization of services in response to Covid, using innovative technologies in such areas as the fast delivery of cash transfers for social protection; telemedicine; safeguarding the continuity of essential public administration services; securing educational continuity through online learning alternative solutions; facilitating remote and tele-working; and ensuring inclusive outreach for vaccination.

A human-development-centred recovery

Covid-19 started as a public health emergency that quickly deteriorated into an economic, social, and human emergency that required whole-of-society responses with strong coordination between responsible govern­ment agencies and meaningful collaboration with private firms, civil society organizations and international organizations.

The report contends that a sound recovery from the impact of the pandemic in the region will require a concerted effort to protect the vulnerable, empower citizens, strengthen human rights, ensure the rule of law, and make systems more effective and responsive. Countries of the region need new social contracts that pave the way to peace, justice, and stability, leaving no one behind, building more resilient, inclusive, accounta­ble and trusted institutions, and expanding human capabilities and freedoms.

The AHDR 2022 underscored that post-Covid recovery presents an opportunity for countries to evaluate and strengthen capabilities and make structural changes to prevent and cope with emerging shocks, including a looming global food crisis, and diminishing international resources for development financing, both related to the current war on Ukraine, as well as future shocks and disasters.

The report’s recommendations for an integrated and human-development-centred approach to recovery include:

  • Investment in enhancing accountability and responsiveness of governance systems and structures, through inclusive and participatory processes to rebuild citizens’ trust in government, strengthen freedoms, human rights and the rule of the law, and leave no one behind. These processes should engage local governments, the private sector, civil society, and citizens, as well as expand the role of local govern­ments in responding to citizen’s needs, delivering services, and combating poverty and inequality.
  • Fostering economic diversification and resilience, by focusing investments on high-productivity goods and services, expanding exports through greater integration with global value chains, and tackling persistent unemploy­ment and labour mar­kets challenges through promoting job creation in the private sector, with decent working conditions, especially for women. This also entails improving the investment climate, strengthening public financial management through enhanced tax man­agement, and boosting social spending to protect the poor and vulnerable.
  • Enhancing social cohesion and inclusion, through inclusive and equitable access to quality social, health and education services; pursuing social cohesion and consensus-building initiatives; enabling greater civic participation and negotiation in the workplace; promoting gender-responsive laws and investing in care policies and services; and ensuring inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable groups in all aspects of the recovery, especially women, migrants, refugees and people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring that recovery pathways are green, through accelerating and scaling-up clean energy transition initiatives; expanding green transportation and infrastructure in­vestments; closing gaps in water and waste services; incorporating circular economy solutions into local development; and advancing ecological restoration and safeguards for biological systems. The report underlines that, if prop­erly planned, green recovery measures can help diversify economies and contribute to growth, generating new and sustainable forms of revenue, creating green job opportunities, and enhancing resilience for commu­nities and the ecosystems on which they depend for people’s lives and livelihoods.

For inquires please contact: Noeman AlSayyad | Communication Advisor | UNDP-RBAS | noeman.alsayyad@undp.org | +962(79)5672901

Read the original UNDP article.


UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at undp.org or follow at @UNDP.

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