The Arab world in attracting Foreign Direct Investment

The Arab world in attracting Foreign Direct Investment

WAM, the Emirates News Agency posted this article April 8th, 2018 about the UAE with the second-largest Arab economy, is leading the Arab world in attracting Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI). It is known that Dubai leads Arab start-ups but the recent Saudi Arabian reforms being engaged in the non-oil local activities may possibly alter that.
In the meantime, the UAE bankruptcy laws and company possible total foreign ownership are no longer hampering but rather allow total foreign contribution to the sought after investment in the local economy.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy

UAE leads in attracting FDI in Arab world: UAE Minister of Economy

In 2016, the UAE attracted 29 percent of the total FDI inflow in the Arab world, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, told the media ahead of the Annual Investment Meeting, AIM, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 9th to 11th, 2018, under the theme, “Partnerships for Total Growth and Sustainable Development.”
The FDI inflow to the UAE reached AED37.8 billion (US$10.3 billion) in 2017, according to the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, FCSA, up from AED35.23 billion ($9.6 billion) recorded in 2016. This raised the total FDI stock of the country to AED473.500 billion ($128.94 billion) in 2017.
“We also topped Arab countries in terms of attracting new foreign investment projects, as we attracted 4,492 foreign investment projects in the UAE, out of a total of 12,192 new investment projects in the Arab countries from 2003 to 2016, reflecting the competitiveness of the national economy at the state level in creating efficient business,” he added.
The country is also working on luring quality investments that serve its development objectives and provide additional value to the national economy.
“FDI plays a crucial role in strengthening economic growth and raising the efficiency of national economies, and the UAE is constantly adapting the best policies and economic trends to keep pace with changes in the nature and trends of foreign investments to consolidate its position as a global destination for business and finance.
“According to preliminary data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, global FDI flows are forecast to decline by 16 percent in 2017, from $1.81 trillion in 2016 to $1.52 trillion in 2017,” he said.
However, FDI inflows to developing economies are expected to stabilise in 2017, reaching about $653 billion, an increase of 2 percent over 2016.
“This indicates the need for countries, including the UAE, to continue their efforts to attract more investments in those sectors that add value, and to develop the appropriate policies and frameworks to make the best use of the presence of FDI to serve their development objectives,” he added.
Speaking about the Annual Investment Meeting, he said, “It is a collaborative platform for linking advanced and emerging markets and exploring potential partnership opportunities and will address obstacles facing acceleration of FDI inflow. It will also seek to explore promising investment opportunities in vital sectors, including energy, mining, manufacturing, infrastructure, logistics, agriculture, tourism and ICT.”
WAM/Elsadig Idriss/MOHD AAMIR

Mauritania arrests anti-slavery activists



Slavery is still alive in Mauritania. Can a new court ruling help change that? wondered The Washington Post last February. So Mauritania arrests anti-slavery activists would not come as a surprise. Or should it in this day and age?

Here is a rendering of the Middle East Monitor of today.

Amnesty International has accused the Mauritanian authorities of the arbitrary detention and torture of anti-slavery activists. In a report issued on Wednesday entitled “A sword hanging over our heads’: The repression of activists speaking out against discrimination and slavery in Mauritania”, Amnesty International said: “Mauritanian human rights defenders who speak out against persistent practice of slavery and discrimination in the country have faced arbitrary arrest, torture, detention in remote prisons and the systematic banning of their gatherings”.

According to the report, “the authorities use a range of repressive measures against anti- slavery activists including the prohibition of peaceful protests, using excessive force against protesters, outlawing activist groups and interfering with their activities.”

Read: Leading anti-slavery activist arrested in Mauritania

According to the human rights group, the Mauritanian authorities “did not respond adequately to reported cases of exploitation, to identify victims or punish suspected perpetrators.”

It noted that in 2006, international anti-slavery groups estimated that as many as 43,000 people, or one per cent of the country’s total population, live in slavery in Mauritania.

The Mauritanian government could not be reached for comment, but it usually denies the existence of slavery in the country. Mauritania abolished slavery in 1982.

via Amnesty accuses Mauritania of arrest, torture of anti-slavery activists —

Top 10 universities in the Arab World region


THE (Times Higher Education) World University Rankings 2018 list the top 1,000 universities in the world, making it the biggest international league table to date. Ad Hoc excerpts of this report are reproduced here below for their further spread in the MENA region. Top 10 universities in the Arab World region were looked at separately as THE has compiled a table of the best universities based on data from the 2018 World University Rankings.

Meanwhile, it is the only global university performance table to judge research-intensive universities across all of their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. We use 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

The calculation of the rankings for 2018 has been subject to independent audit by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), making these the only global university rankings to be subjected to full, independent scrutiny of this nature.

The league table has been compiled by filtering the overall World University Rankings results to include only universities located in nations that are members of the Arab LeagueTHE has then ranked the best universities based on their overall ranking score. The full methodology of the World University Rankings 2018 can be viewed here.

The top university in the 2018 table is King Abdulaziz University located in Saudi Arabia. All the universities in the top five are in the Middle East, while universities situated in North Africa – including universities from Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria – feature further down the list.

The most represented country in the ranking is Egypt, with nine universities altogether. Saudi Arabia is next, with five institutions; the United Arab Emirates have four; Jordan and Morocco have three; Tunisia has two; and Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Oman and Algeria each have one university on the list.

Many of the universities featured in the ranking are specialist science and technology universities.

Overall, institutions from 11 of the 22 Arab League nations made the list, which was compiled using 13 performance indicators.

Phil Baty, THE’s editorial director of global rankings, said: “The results demonstrate that leading universities are found across the Arab region. “However, the ranking also shows that there is a lack of data on higher education institutions in the region. Of the 1,102 universities that make our World University Rankings, just 31 are based in the Arab world. We hope that more universities in the region will participate in future years.”

In ay case here are below the TOP 10 UNIVERSITIES IN THE ARAB WORLD 2018:
1. King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia,

2. Khalifa University, UAE and in

3. Qatar University, Qatar.

4. Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan

5. United Arab Emirates University, UAE

6. American University of Beirut, Lebanon

7. Alfaisal University, Saudi Arabia

8. King Saud University, Saudi Arabia

9. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia

10. Beni-Suef University, Egypt

Qatar University ranking 3rd was at the centre of an article of THE published last February about the country’s system that has grown faster than any other world economy, explains Cesar Wazen.

Qatar’s universities on the march despite Gulf turmoil


Two years ago Times Higher Education announced that Qatar University had topped its list of the world’s most international universities.

The amazement among the audience that an institution from outside the higher education powerhouses of the US or UK had claimed top spot was palpable. Qatar University continues to excel on the international outlook indicator and took pole position for the third year running in 2018

Read more on THE document.

The Higher Education Trap


Morocco’s universities are providing too many graduates for too few jobs, says Martin Rose in an article published on Chatham House’s website.  It is about how the Universities and the higher education trap that is getting increasingly tight for the greater number of Moroccan youth. This situation would not be specific to this country only and like elsewhere, migration as a direct consequence is a quick reaction to the enduring status-quo and Europe is envisaged as a close by landing platform.

The higher education trap

Trainee teachers protest in Rabat about their lack of job prospects

Expansion of opportunity in higher education is a good thing, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple, and North Africa provides a chastening example of why: a lot of money is spent on education, universities are proliferating and student numbers ballooning. But graduate unemployment is rising fast.

Every country in North Africa offers shocking figures, but as The Economist noted of Egypt in 2016: ‘The more time you spend in school, the less chance you have of finding a job.’ It is this perverse truth that undermines the explosive growth of higher education in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The unemployed graduate has been very visible in the Arab Spring, in the riots that swept Tunisia in January, in the Hirak protest movement in Morocco’s Rif region and in ‘graduate recruitment’ to the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Morocco provides a useful petri dish, spending 26 per cent of its state budget on education, more than its North African neighbours. Its ‘youth bulge’, combined with success in getting children into primary school and a dramatically increasing pass-rate at the ‘Bac’ school-leaving examination, has meant huge growth in student numbers. State universities have grown from 308,000 students in 2009/10 to 822,000 in 2017/18, a rise of 167 per cent in eight years, and it is far from finished. This ‘massification’ of higher education is well ahead of population growth, with the Gross Enrolment Ratio − the proportion of the age-group in tertiary education − growing from 10.9 per cent in 2003 to 28.14 per cent in 2015.

This year the system expects to launch 98,129 new graduates on to a job market that cannot absorb them. Graduate unemployment in Morocco has risen from 6 per cent in 1984 to 24.4 per cent in 2015, with most of these graduates still chasing their first job.

The speed of growth makes resource planning intractable: ever more students are being taught by ever fewer professors. This has a serious impact on quality. Only one university, public or private − Cadi Ayyad in Marrakech − appears in the Times Higher Education’s top 1,000 universities in 2016. Most professors in open-access faculties − essentially all except medicine, engineering and some science − are overwhelmed with a paralyzing teaching load.

Most employers agree that there is a serious problem with both curriculum and teaching. Since independence, university education has been the gateway to public administration, and the certificate has been more important than its subject or quality.

When the public service was still a significant recruiter, humanities and social sciences were filled with students simply wanting entry to a secure, well-paid, well-pensioned career.

The size of the public administration has been cut back dramatically since the 1980s. Morocco, where in 2008 public salaries ate up 51 per cent of the state budget, has been particularly effective in cutting civil service numbers, but it has not staunched the deluge of graduates coming out of the ‘soft’ faculties. A recent education minister described humanities departments as ‘factories of unemployment’.

There is little effective attempt to adjust syllabuses or teaching to what employers, or the economy, need. In 2016-17, some 75 per cent of students were studying the humanities and social sciences, and only 22.1 per cent science and technology. Added to this is the fact that the first two faculties teach in Arabic and only the sciences in French. Good careers require French, and fluent, ‘educated’ French is effectively confined to the well-off by the preponderance of Arabic in state schools and open-access university faculties. Expansion in the low-prestige, faculties that teach in Arabic is much cheaper and defends the privileges of the francophone upper class.

Driss Guerraoui, an expert on Moroccan graduate unemployment, wrote in 2013 that 80 per cent of the graduate unemployed came from five departments: Arabic literature and Islamic studies, and chemistry, biology and physics, which are taught for the annual teacher recruitment, and useless in industry for the majority who fail to get a teaching job.

The result is a mass of unemployed graduates who demonstrate every week outside parliament demanding ‘unconditional and non-competitive absorption into the public administration’. Skills are irrelevant: they just, understandably, want meal tickets for life. With a constipated labour market and high hiring and firing costs, their choices are heart-breaking − the black economy, under-employment or family-funded idleness while sticking out for ‘appropriate’ work.

Small-scale entrepreneurship is much touted as a solution, and while such skills are starting to be taught, the legal and administrative infrastructure remains very resistant. Real solutions to the graduate unemployment problem need to reach well outside the education system into language policy and labour market reform. 

Read more of the article on Chatham House’s publication and / or on A degree of overkill Rose.pdf



Global Inequality is on the Rise at different Countries Rates

It is manifestly obvious that Global Inequality is on the Rise at different Countries Rates, but how different is today’s situation to that of any time in the past. Is it due to the quasi omnipresence of all the internet networks that allow information to be gathered at a lightning speed as well as at unknown before today world coverage and depth.  In any case here is The Conversation’s  Antonio Savoia, University of Manchester write up on the subject.

The MENA region petro-export and non petro-export countries alike could easily be assimilated to the section of this article covering “Inequality in the developing world”, could it not? Lots of writing has lately been carried out on gender, social classes, political systems, etc. and none have been as convincing as this one here below.

Global inequality is on the rise – but at vastly different rates across the world

The gap between rich and poor is growing.

Inequality is rising almost everywhere across the world – that’s the clear finding of the first ever World Inequality Report. In particular, it has grown fastest in Russia, India and China – places where this was long suspected but there was little accurate data to paint a reliable picture.

Until now, it was actually very difficult to compare inequality in different regions of the world because of sparse or inconsistent data, which lacked credibility. But, attempting to overcome this gap, the new World Inequality Report is built on data collection work carried out by more than a hundred researchers located across every continent and contributing to the World Wealth and Income Database.

Europe is the least unequal region of the world, having experienced a milder increase in inequality. At the bottom half of the table are Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil and India, with the Middle East as the most unequal region.

World Inequality Report

Since 1980, the report shows that there has been rising inequality occurring at different speeds in most parts of the world. This is measured by the top 10% share of income distribution – how much of the nation’s income the top 10% of earners hold.

Places where inequality has remained stable are those where it was already at very high levels. In line with this trend, we observe that the Middle East is perhaps the most unequal region, where the top 10% of income earners have consistently captured over 60% of the nation’s income.

Inequality is always a concern

Even in Europe, where it is less pronounced, equality always raises ethical concerns. For example, in Western Europe, many do not receive a real living wage, despite working hard, often in full-time employment. Plus, the data shows that the top 10% of earners in Europe as a whole still hold 37% of the total national income in 2016.

Rising income inequality should be focal to public debate because it is also a factor which motivates human behaviour. It affects how we consume, save and invest. For many, it determines whether one can access the credit market or a good school for our children

This, in turn, may affect economic growth, raising the question of whether it is economically efficient to have unequal societies.

Going into the details of what drives the rise in income inequality, the report shows that unequal ownership of national wealth is an important force. National wealth can be either publicly owned (for example, the value of schools, hospitals and public infrastructure) or privately owned (the value of private assets).

Since 1980, very large transfers of public to private wealth occurred in nearly all countries, whether rich or emerging. While national wealth has substantially increased, public wealth is now negative or close to zero in rich countries. In particular, the UK and the US are countries with the lowest levels of public capital.

World Inequality Report

Arguably, this limits the ability of governments to tackle inequality. Certainly, it has important implications for wealth inequality among citizens. It also indicates that national policies shaping ownership of capital have been a major factor contributing to the rise of inequality since 1980.

Inequality in the developing world

Resource rich economies are traditionally considered to be prone to conflict or more authoritarian in terms of how they are governed. What this new report tells us is that some resource rich economies, such as “oil economies”, are also extremely unequal. This was often suspected because natural resources are often concentrated in the hands of a minority. Until this report, however, there was no clear evidence.

The World Inequality Report appears to show us that the Middle East region may be even more unequal than Central and South America, which have long been held up as some of the most unequal places on Earth.

Another significant finding is that countries at similar stages of development have seen different patterns of rising inequality. This suggests that national policies and institutions can make the difference. The trajectories of three major emerging economies are illustrative. Russia has an abrupt increase, China a moderate pace and India a gradual one.

World Inequality Report

The comparison between Europe and the US provides an even more striking example – Western Europe remains the place with the lowest concentration of national income among the top 10% of earners.

Compared with the US, the divergence in inequality has been spectacular. While the top 1% income share was close to 10% in both regions in 1980, it rose only slightly to 12% in 2016 in Western Europe, while it shot up to 20% in the US. This might help explain the rise in populism. Those left behind grow impatient when they do not see any tangible improvement (or even a worsening) in their living conditions.

It is not just important to reduce inequality to make society more fair. Equal societies are associated with other important outcomes. As well as political and social stability, education, crime and financial stability may all suffer when inequality is high.

With this new data at our fingertips, we can now act to learn from the policies of more equal regions and implement them to reduce inequality across the world.

Antonio Savoia, Lecturer in Development Economics, University of Manchester

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.