Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

A shattered world stands at a crossroads

In partnership with Mena Economic Forum.

Written by Jean-Christophe Barla on Monday, December 9th 2013 à 17:27 | Read 928 times

"The current uncertainties do not encourage investment in the MENA zone" confided the moderator Fatiha Dazi-Héni at the opening of the round table. Discussions have confirmed the diversity of the political, economic and social situations in a region where transitions are far from complete and there are still many questions concerning the future. But some encouraging changes are emerging.

To carry out the dramatic changes required to modernize the Arab countries that have seen revolutions in the past three years will involve a degree of confidence. Participants at the round table, "How to understand the changes and restructuring taking place in the Mena zone" on 8 November in Marseille, judged that this confidence does not yet exist. It is not present in the inhabitants or among investors. 

For Mansouria Mokhefi, head of the North Africa Middle East programme at the French Institute of International Relations, the environment is still fragile due to "the extreme weakness of the private sector, the lack of economic diversification and regional trade, and the negative effect of corruption and insecurity". She also emphasized "the invisibility of young people" among the leaders in power, and "the disappearance of women, despite their activism in the uprisings". 


Obstacles and vulnerabilities

Photo JC Barla
Photo JC Barla
Jean-Louis Reiffers, chairman of the FEMISE scientific committee, is concerned about political instability and the lack of an overall strategy. "There needs to be a growth model that is based on greater productivity rather than on the accumulation of capital. However, the elite are doing the opposite of what the economists recommend", he observes. 
There are numerous challenges. Abdelmalek Alaoui, director of Global Intelligence Partners in Morocco, identifies a particular priority: the "dispelling of Mistaken Good Ideas", starting with collocation, which he describes as "Middle Eastern cash, North African labour and the dividends going north". He points out the antagonism between the elite French and Arabic speakers, the differences in models and cultures. "The only way forward is transparency and democracy. But a living democracy cannot be established in three years".

Progress and the Future

Usamah Al-Kurdi, president of the Alagat Company in Riyadh, also affirms that it takes time to build a civil society, but insists that his country is making progress. "Massive reforms are affecting all sectors, with a view to improving citizens' lives and generating sustainable economic growth. These reforms involve thought, ideology and dialogue" he warns, convinced that the Mena zone is entering a new political era, as a result of the gradual withdrawal of the United States.

Mansouria Mokhefi is encouraged by the new relations between Tunisia and Algeria on security, and the arrival of China, Turkey and Qatar as investors in economic projects. For Malika Berak, Ambassador for the Mediterranean, the 5 + 5 Dialogue offers a basis to find solutions to the crises. She even advocates the entry of new countries in a "Variable geometry Mediterranean", to create a "laboratory for projects". 


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