What can ancient wisdom teach us about sustainability?

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Amr Al Madani
, Chief Executive Officer, Al-Ula, elaborating in this WEF article on what can ancient wisdom teach us about sustainability, reaches a conclusion that is integrated sustainability means not only integrating the economy with nature and society but also integrating the past with the present, the present with the future, and technology with culture.

The main points are :

  • Integrated sustainability means using past, present and future techniques on projects that respect both nature and society, and technology and local culture.
  • Projects like Al-Ula’s Cultural Oasis in Saudi Arabia are trying to integrate lessons from the past to create a more sustainable future for areas in need of development.
  • These ancient techniques are being updated with new technology and innovative thinking to address sustainability issues such as desertification.

Sustainability is often viewed through a futuristic prism, yet what we often miss is that ancient wisdom can hold important lessons. The struggle to be more sustainable is a relatively new phenomenon, but inspiration can be drawn from ancient farming and water management techniques. Innovation and technology can help us adapt these techniques to meet our present-day needs.

Situated in the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia, the Al-Ula valley has seen at least 200,000 years of human history. One of the reasons people gathered here for millennia was because of the relative abundance of water in an otherwise arid environment. When long-term climate patterns meant less rainfall from the 5th millennium B.C., however, our ancestors in Al-Ula had to find ways to use this resource with minimal waste.

First, they dug wells. Then they developed an ingenious technique called qanat. Fortunately, Abdullah Nasif, an Al-Ula native and professor of archaeology at King Saud University, collected information on the qanat in the 1970s before their abandonment.

The technique involves digging a well at an elevated point in the landscape where the water table is easily reached, such as the base of a hill. Then, using a row of vertical shafts for access, digging an underground horizontal channel leading to settlements and fields at lower ground. Gravity is the channel’s engine.

Integrated sustainability means not only integrating the economy with nature and society but also integrating the past with the present, the present with the future, and technology with culture.

This point was made by William McDonough, a pioneer in this area, during the April 2021 session of Crossroads – a discussion forum that brings together industry leaders in art, nature, culture, tourism and heritage.

The important thing is to see this whole set of issues as a kind of ecosystem and organism. It’s important because everything affects everything else, and the benefits are tremendous.—William McDonough, Architect and Sustainable Development Expert

Indeed, the greening of Al-Ula is only one example on a global list of projects designed to capture a new balance in development. Other initiatives include the Great Green Wall of Africa, Pakistan’s 10 Billion Tree TsunamiLiuzhou Forest City in China, and the Saudi Green Initiative.

From responsible to sustainable development

Al-Ula’s commitment to integrated sustainability is outlined in the Al-Ula Sustainability Charter. Its 12 principles guide Al-Ula’s development to create a new path focused on protection and preservation. The charter sets out an innovative and integrated approach that marks a shift from responsible development to sustainable development.

Key elements include:

  • A zero-carbon policy supported by circular economy principles (net carbon-neutral by 2035 for local emissions, excluding air travel and food imports).
  • Increasing the share of renewables for water heating and power generation.
  • Cradle-to-cradle solutions to expand on the use, recovery and reuse of safe and healthy products and materials.
  • An inclusivity framework which ensures that Al-Ula’s people, as the guardians of ancestral values, techniques, and traditions, are central to the long-term success of Al-Ula’s development as primary beneficiaries and partners.

Infrastructure agreements signed in October 2021 with infrastructure firm AECOM and the French consortium Egis, further this commitment to sustainability and community inclusion. For example, AECOM’s Sustainable Legacies strategy will work hand-in-glove with Al-Ula’s Sustainability Charter.

The Al-Ula Sustainability charter sets out an innovative and integrated approach that marks a shift from responsible development to sustainable development.—Amr Al Madani, Royal Commission for Al-Ula

Creating a sustainability oasis

One of our flagship projects, the Cultural Oasis, is a prime example of converting the charter into action. The project aspires to revive Al-Ula’s legacy as a prosperous agricultural heartland where for centuries farmers grew oranges, lemons, figs, pomegranates, chickpeas, barley and wheat. Our research shows that the advent of modern farming methods in the 20th century caused the water table to descend, greatly reducing the scale of farming.

Research and innovative solutions will rehabilitate the land and reverse desertification of the area. The Royal Commission for Al-Ula has already started to deliver programmes as part of the Cultural Oasis project, including wadi clean-up; the Orange Path project, where guests can walk through a natural setting to a citrus market; the Incense Road Market activation; and the Madrasat AdDeera (Al-Ula Arts and Design Centre) programme, which promotes the production of local handicrafts.

Part of an integrated approach means ensuring the community is on board and actively seeing the benefits of implementing more sustainable agricultural and environmental practices.—Amr Al Madani, Royal Commission for Al-Ula

Integrating the community

Part of an integrated approach means ensuring the community is on board and actively seeing the benefits of implementing more sustainable agricultural and environmental practices. In this regard, economic sustainability is critical. For many years, Al-Ula has had a stubbornly high unemployment rate (44.9% in 2019, for example, according to figures from the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics). Advancing sustainable practices can be challenging as a result, particularly if people believe there will be a cost to their livelihoods.

In Al-Ula, our approach works on all fronts to deliver a balanced approach to sustainability and we have already seen the first shoots of growth. According to Saudi Central Bank data, point of sale transactions in Al-Ula County have risen from 0.86 million in 2018 to 5.22 million in 2020, and value-added tax collections during the same time span have risen from 21.9 million riyals ($5.5 million) to 45.3 million riyals ($12 million), according to the General Authority of Zakat & Tax.

By 2035, our target is that Al-Ula will have two million visitors a year, will have made a cumulative contribution of 120 billion riyals ($32 billion) to Saudi GDP, and created 38,000 jobs. These goals are ambitious, yet achievable. And the ripple effects on environmental and social sustainability will surely follow.

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The impact of Covid-19 on labour markets in MENA

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According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), some of the emerging market economies grew in 2020 as government incentives and support were put into action. The Forum‘s article by Ragui Assaad, Caroline Krafft and Mohamed Ali Marouani confirm that the impact of Covid-19 on labour markets in MENA in 2021 was unprecedented and not really well lived in by most. Would this pace or resilience continue in 2022?

Employment is recovering but income losses persist in MENA countries in the second year of the pandemic. Two recent ERF policy briefs summarised in this column illustrate the mix of recovery and ongoing challenges for households and firms.

With the Covid-19 pandemic on the verge of its third year, Middle East and North African (MENA) economies are recovering from the slump caused by lockdowns and other economic disruptions, but households and firms are still experiencing steep income and revenue losses well into the pandemic’s second year.

In two recently published policy briefs, we examine how workers and firms have fared in the first half of 2021 in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia (Krafft et al, 2021, 2022).

Household and enterprise surveys during the pandemic

The analysis is based on the COVID-19 MENA Monitor Household and Enterprise Surveys conducted by ERF over the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 (OAMDI – Open Access Micro Data Initiative, 2021a, 2021b).

The surveys were conducted by telephone on a panel of firms and enterprises. The household surveys are the main source of information on how households, workers and microenterprises experienced the pandemic, whereas the enterprise surveys focused on the experience of small and medium enterprises (those with between six and 199 workers) in February 2020 (pre-pandemic).

Four waves of the household survey were conducted in Morocco and Tunisia centred around November 2020, February 2021, April 2021 and June 2021. Two waves were conducted in Egypt and Jordan centred around February and June 2021.

Two waves of the enterprise surveys were conducted in each of the four countries corresponding to the first and second quarter of 2021. Household and enterprise surveys were conducted in Sudan as part of the same series, but are not discussed here.

Health and economic outcomes in the pandemic

Among the four countries, Jordan and Tunisia experienced much higher rates of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the first half of 2021 than either Egypt or Morocco. But while Egypt gradually loosened its closure measures in 2021, Morocco, like Jordan and Tunisia, maintained more stringent measures than the world average.

Egypt was also the only one among the four countries that managed to maintain a positive economic growth rate of 1.5% in 2020. In contrast, Tunisia experienced a large economic contraction of 8.8% and Morocco likewise contracted 6.3%, while Jordan’s economy contracted by 1.6%. Despite relatively strong recoveries in Morocco and Tunisia in the first half of 2021, their economies, as well as that of Jordan, remained depressed relative to pre-pandemic levels.

The tourist and transport industries were the hardest hit in all four countries, with tourism-related industries the most negatively affected in terms of closures, reduced hours and revenue losses.

Labour market outcomes

The evidence suggests that aggregate labour market indicators, such as labour force participation, employment and unemployment rates, were recovering in the first half of 2021, except in Morocco where the progress made earlier in the year later reversed. With the exception of Morocco, more of those who lost jobs early in the pandemic were regaining employment over the course of 2021.

Private wage workers, especially those hired informally, faced substantially more challenges related to layoffs/suspensions and wage reductions in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia than in Morocco. But the prevalence of these challenges decreased in these three countries from February to June 2021, while it increased in Morocco.

The results of the household and enterprise surveys suggest that microenterprises were the most likely to be closed due to Covid-19 in the first quarter of 2021. If open, micro and small firms were more likely to have reduced hours than medium firms.

As Figure 1 shows, a similar proportion of microenterprises across the four countries reported substantially reduced revenues, but higher proportions of small and medium enterprises reported such revenue losses in Jordan and Morocco than in Egypt and Tunisia in the first quarter of 2021.

Figure 1: Revenue change (past 60 days versus 2019), by firm size in February 2020 and country, micro, small and medium enterprises (percentage), quarter one, 2021.

Source: Krafft et al (2021), based on data from the ERF COVID-19 MENA Monitor Household and Enterprise Surveys

Income levels

Despite some recovery in employment rates, household income levels remain depressed, with just under a half to two-thirds of households in all four countries reporting income losses in June 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the share reporting income losses increased from February to June 2021.

As Figure 2 shows, household income losses were highest for the households that were poorest pre-pandemic, confirming the adverse effects of the pandemic on poverty and inequality.

Figure 2: Changes in household income from February 2020 to June 2021 (percentage of households), by country and February 2020 income quartile

Source: Krafft et al (2022), based on COVID-19 MENA Monitor Household Survey in June 2021.

Social support

Social support reached a relatively limited fraction of the population, except in Jordan, where it reached 53% in February and 44% in June 2021. Assistance was generally well-targeted, reaching a higher proportion of lower-income households than higher-income households. But while targeting efficiency improved in Morocco over time, it deteriorated in Egypt.

Targeting of assistance was generally not based on the workers’ vulnerability with respect to labour market status, again with the possible exception of Jordan, which successfully targeted irregular and informal workers.

Firms’ experiences

It appears that firms in Jordan and Morocco were experiencing more difficulty than firms in Egypt and Tunisia due to the Covid-19-induced crisis in the first quarter of 2021. Although the Tunisian economy had the deepest overall downturn in 2020, it appears to have recovered somewhat by the first quarter of 2021 so that the adverse effects on firms were reduced.

The downturn in Egypt appears to be shallower than in the other countries, sparing Egyptian firms the worst of the negative outcomes. Yet in all countries, there is a clear need for continuing support, especially targeted to the most affected industries and firms, as the economic effects of Covid-19 continue to affect micro, small and medium enterprises.

Support for firms

Although policies were instituted in all four countries to support firms through the crisis, the reach of these policies appears to have been limited. A half to three-quarters of small and medium enterprises reported they had not applied for or received any government assistance.

The most common type of support received (and needed) in all four countries was business loans, but firms in Morocco and Tunisia also report needing (and sometimes receiving) salary subsidies. A substantial proportion of firms in all four countries also expressed the need for reduced or delayed taxes.

The featured top image is for illustration and is credit to Reuters

Qatar’s sports eyes post-2022 horizon

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Published by The Peninsula on how an emirate of the Gulf region does have a vision but how after it has since the early 1990s heavily invested in promoting its image through sports, it is getting ready to facing other challenges. Not only has it fought hard to win support for its 2022 World Cup hosting, it is now trying to further use its soft power to perhaps conquer the world. But would Qatar’s sports sector eying post-2022 horizon keep it alive and well? And if Qatar can silence critics with a strong tournament, an Olympic bid could be next; why not?

Qatar’s sports sector eyes post-2022 horizon

Doha: Interest around development of sports in Qatar has soared globally in the runup to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the sector has become the focus of global investors. With $6.5bn budgeted for the event, what opportunities does the wealthiest Gulf state offer after the much-awaited football celebration? 

The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) delves into the growth prospects of the sports industry and showcases the multi-sectoral opportunities on offer.
Qatar’s Booming Sports Industry.

Over the last decade, the Middle East has hosted several key tournaments — Asian Football Confederation Cup, World Men’s Handball Championship and IAAF World Athletics Championships among others. This has helped establish the region as a global sporting destination.  A PwC survey shows that the sports industry in the Middle East is expected to grow 8.7 percent in three to five years, while the expected growth of global sports business is not expected to exceed 3 percent in the same period. With Qatar hosting more than 50 international events in 2021, the survey points out that the sports industry in the Middle East is expected to fully recover from the pandemic in 2022. 

The region’s sports industry has untapped potential. The first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Arab region is a catalysing force for unlocking that potential and “propelling the beautiful game”.  Qatar has pursued a bold development strategy and is at the vanguard of countries with advanced sports infrastructure. In the “Ranking of Sports Cities 2020” by Burson Cohn & Wolfe, which evaluates the performance of cities in hosting sporting events based on digital landscape analysis, sports media, and international federations surveys, Doha has made it to the top 50 global cities and the first in the Arab World. Similarly, the “Global Sports Impact (GSI) Nations Index” by the Sports Market Intelligence’s company Sportcal ranked Qatar first in GCC and among the top 20 worldwide. 

Ripple Effect 

With an average growth of 4.5 percent over 11 years, between 2010 to 2020, Qatar’s GDP has grown steadily since it was awarded the right to host the World Cup in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With economic diversification, the sports industry is poised for further growth. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has identified 83 commercial and investment opportunities for the private sector until 2023, spanning event management and promotion, sport development, venue construction, sporting goods and equipment, sports commercialisation, sports tourism, and venue operations. 

Esports Adds Momentum 

While the pandemic has challenged economies, it has spotlighted the indispensability of technology integration and digital transformation. Sports is no exception. The global Esports market is expected to grow with a CAGR (2019 to 2024) of +8.7% to reach $218.7 billion in 2024. In the Middle East, Esports represents a natural fit for the region, where the majority of the population is young and internet-savvy. 

It also holds promising growth potential as governments continue to invest in sport and digital transformation as a way to diversify their economies. A recent PwC survey shows that Saudi Arabia ranks among the top 20 countries for games revenue at $716m, with the UAE generating $313m and Egypt $287m.

Qatar has a strong starting point with advanced ICT and adaptability, ranked 8th in the Global Competitiveness Index’s “ICT Adoption” pillar.  With the world’s 1st commercially available 5G network and with 99 percent internet penetration, the country continues to support investors to unfold opportunities through its licensing platforms such as Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Sports Tech. 

Sports healthcare to drive more opportunities

The global sports medicine and physiotherapy market was estimated at $8.2bn in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.83 percent to reach $14.9bn by 2027. Qatar boasts futuristic sports medicine facilities. It is home to Aspetar – Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital – which is the first such facility in the region and is accredited by FIFA as a sports medicine centre of excellence. 

Boasting some of the world’s finest sports infrastructure Qatar has cemented its position as a global sports destination. 

New sports legacy 

Hosting the FIFA World Cup has helped Qatar draw investment. The country has introduced measures that will not only deliver an unparalleled World Cup experience but create opportunities. The mega projects — from a railway and airport expansion to construction projects worth $200bn will boost business and draw investment in 2022 and beyond. 

With over a million fans travelling to the country, tourism and hospitality will benefit immensely from preparation for sporting events. Describing Qatar’s economy post-World Cup 2022, Nasser Al Khater, CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said, “The country’s focus will shift from infrastructure development to tourism and will likely go in the direction of Russia post-World Cup 2018”. The tournament added $14bn to the Russian economy, and the benefits are still being felt. 

Qatar is poised to spur development. The country’s vision and futuristic infrastructure have not only accelerated the development of sports industry, but also bolstered growth potential of different sectors.

Aerospace is the next frontier for Saudi youth

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Ahmed Jazzar in today’s Arab News enlightens us on how the country is leaving no particular sector vacant in unfolding its ambitious objectives. Aerospace, a heavy sector in terms of technological developments, as per the guiding Vision 2030, would therefore not go unattended by the emerging knowledge elite. So would Aerospace be the next frontier for Saudi youth?

The image above is for illustration and is of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology by Times Higher Education (THE)

The world is witnessing an increased interest in STEM education among the younger generation — academic disciplines combining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — leading to a potential interest in engineering among students. (Shutterstock)

With the Kingdom currently going through the rigorous implementation phase of its Vision 2030, there remains a vested interest in carving new paths for the next generation to ultimately succeed in reaching their goals and ambitions.

The aerospace sector succeeded in this regard, as many global companies have converged on the government’s vision and partnered with major universities to introduce initiatives outside of their set curricula.

Boeing continues to demonstrate this interest against the backdrop of its well-established relationship with Saudi Arabia which goes back for more than 76 years.

The company supports the Kingdom’s goals to diversify its economy into the industrial sector. It also believes that the future of the sector relies heavily on empowering the next generation of talent as they engage in activities designed to enhance the technological progression of the country through advancements in science.

The world is witnessing an increased interest in STEM education among the younger generation — academic disciplines combining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — leading to a potential interest in engineering among students who are applying to universities in the Kingdom.

The fact of the matter remains that there is still room for improvement, and here is where the aerospace sector can align to ensure these interests are converted seamlessly into tangible career prospects.

Within the scope of facilitating this long-term conversion, Boeing has partnered with industry leaders in academia to drive youth participation in STEM and engineering, including the aerospace sector, in particular with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology which Boeing has been working for the last 10 years to boost local and international industrial collaboration through robust research and development programs.

The programs are knowledge-based and go hand-in-hand with the theoretical base which students are studying within their curriculums. The ultimate goal of these programs would be to boost collaborative research on next-generation aerospace technologies where students can apply their knowledge in a more practice-based setting.

The Boeing Research and Technology office at the university creates a space for research experts to interact and advise professors and students first-hand through the usage of next-generation aerospace technologies.

Alfaisal University also partnered with Boeing on similar projects, whereby engineering students showcased their skills by inventing technologically advanced models for various industries, based on the acquired skills learned from research methods in the aerospace sector.

Other projects included the design and invention of an efficient and reliable solar-powered vehicle capable of competing in international competitions. This project, now in its completion stage, continues to develop the skills of students in research, simulation, experimental design and prototyping, and also teamwork.

Several new initiatives ought to be put in place to upskill the talent of the future, since they are the generation that are contributing toward the success, technological advancement and, ultimately, a prosperous Kingdom.

  • Ahmed Jazzar is president of Boeing, Saudi Arabia.

MENA Region Digital Transformation Can Create More Jobs

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Here is Gilgamesh Nabeel in MENA Region Digital Transformation Can Create More Jobs as per a recent report that says so.

Over 230 students attend a workshop held by the Elaf Center and the Earthlink Telecommunications at Diyala University, northeast of Baghdad, to be better prepared for the labour market. (Photo Courtesy: Elaf Center for Media Training, 2021).

Lack of digital infrastructure contributes to high rates of youth unemployment in the MENA region, a new report says.

The report, “COVID-19 and Internet Accessibility in the MENA Region”, was published in mid-December by the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. It assesses the readiness of the MENA region countries to shift employment online, both in terms of Internet availability and digital literacy among the populace.

Its authors, Alexander Farley and Manuel Langendorf, argue that increasing internet accessibility and investing in digital infrastructure development can help governments’ efforts to form a digitally-enabled economic recovery strategy.

While the MENA region is projected to have 160 million potential digital users by 2025, the paper draws a bleak image of its internet infrastructure and accessibility.

Last year, 34 percent of the population in Arab states was not using the Internet, according to ITU data. In 2019, the GSMA, which represent the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, found that almost half the people in countries such as Egypt and Lebanon, which have a mobile broadband network, are not using the Internet. Around 60 million people in the MENA region were not covered by a mobile network.

“Studies have shown that broadband development leads to increased GDP and has a positive impact on employment in the short term – part of the picture are newly created jobs to build new digital infrastructure,”

Manuel Langendorf  A researcher focusing on digital transformation in the MENA region and co-author of the report

Furthermore, with the exception of the UAE and Qatar, which cover about 80 percent of households directly with fiber, only nine out of 100 inhabitants in Arab states used fixed broadband subscriptions, the second-lowest rate of all world regions, after Africa.

The paper says the development of digital infrastructure overall continues to lag behind the rest of the world. This holds back the region’s digital transformation and deprives it of the benefits of investment in improving national core networks.

Digital Infrastructure Development Boosts Jobs 

Overall, unemployment in the MENA region stood at 11.6 percent with the “the low-skilled, the young, women, and migrant workers were affected the most” by the pandemic, the report says. In 2019, youth unemployment was over 25 percent, with further decline in youth employment by an additional 10 percent in 2020.

Manuel Langendorf, a researcher focusing on digital transformation in the MENA region and co-author of the report, argued that proper investment in digital infrastructure can help government confront unemployment.

“Digital transformation is not a silver bullet to solve the MENA region’s protracted unemployment problem, but it can create new job opportunities, especially for the large young and relatively tech-savvy population,” Langendorf told Al-Fanar Media.

“Studies have shown that broadband development leads to increased GDP and has a positive impact on employment in the short term – part of the picture are newly created jobs to build new digital infrastructure,” he added.

While the longer term effects seem less clear, Langendorf thinks a country-wide improvement to digital infrastructure can bring new economic opportunities, including for disadvantaged populations and rural areas.

“These include the expansion of remote working, as an employee or freelance worker, and also allows workers to search for employment opportunities more widely,” he added. “An improved digital infrastructure also opens up new job opportunities in online education.”

Iraqi students and graduates attend a workshop held by a local training centre and the Earthlink Telecommunications to improve their skills to better meet the labour market needs. (Photo Courtesy: Elaf Center for Media Training, 2021).

Citing the installation of ten submarine internet cables between Europe and Africa, he said: “We found a significant and large relative increase in the employment rate in connected areas when fast internet becomes available.”

Do We Need More IT Graduates? 

In the Internet era, when many traditional jobs might disappear, students see IT-related courses as a route to secure jobs.

However, the report highlighted that some countries, like Jordan, graduate around 5,000 students in IT-related fields each year, yet less than 2,000 are hired. Still, some see an opportunity for ICT graduates from the region to fill the shortage of skilled IT workers in Western countries.

Alexander Farley believes the region needs more people with IT knowledge.

“University curricula in most MENA countries are slow to update, thus creating a situation where many fresh graduates hold a diploma but are not ready to start working in the IT sector as their knowledge is outdated,” he wrote to Al-Fanar Media.

“Nevertheless, many MENA startups have had great success in the past years. In 2021, MENA-based startups raised close to $3 billion, a new record for the region.”

Alexander Farley

He called on the education and the private sectors to collaborate to improve the university-job pipeline and close the skills gap. “Both sides should make sure that the latest IT knowledge is integrated into curricula and set up internship opportunities for students and graduates,” he said. “Beyond universities, the private sector and educational institutions can hold more workshops to bring people up to speed.”

The report also identified management skills as one of the biggest challenges to expanding potential of IT in the MENA region. “The lack of management skills affects the scalability of projects and businesses that can make use of the surplus of advanced IT skills,” said Farley.

Moreover, the authors said the MENA region lacks truly innovative IT ventures, and is focused instead on adapting ideas created elsewhere.

“In this context, the region is often described as a consumer rather than a creator of technology,” said Farley. “Nevertheless, many MENA startups have had great success in the past years. In 2021, MENA-based startups raised close to $3 billion, a new record for the region.”

Fruitful Digital Transformation Tips

Governments and other stakeholders need to ensure that the expansion of digital infrastructure focuses not just on connectivity (areas covered by Internet), but accessibility, the authors went on.

“Is using the Internet affordable? Do people have access to devices to use the Internet?” wondered Langendorf. “Mobile industry body GSMA estimated those living in areas with a mobile broadband network but not using mobile internet increased from 41 percent to 48 percent between 2014 and 2020.”

To enable investments in digital infrastructure to tackle unemployment, Langendorf calls on governments to support entrepreneurship. “They need to facilitate starting a business and obtaining loans, and decriminalizing bankruptcy,” he said.

“Besides, they should enable cross-border trade and the movement of skilled people between countries.”