Guest Bloggers's blog
This is good day for asset recovery. First and foremost it is a victory for the Tunisian people and the Tunisian government. It demonstrates that the consistent and patient efforts undertaken by the authorities in Tunis, including the Tunisian Financial Intelligence Unit, the Committee for the return of Stolen Assets, and the Ministry of Justice, are now paying off.
I had never dreamed of getting the chance to pose a question to a president, but I got my chance a few months ago. In September 2012, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansur al-Hadi paid a visit to Washington DC. Having grown up in Yemen, I was intrigued by his arrival. And as a woman, I wanted to hear about his vision for women’s role in the new Yemen.
In light of recent political and social unrest in the region, foreign investors are taking a “wait-and-see” attitude to projects in the Middle East and North Africa. For the region’s investment promoters, this demands better, more proactive performance than in the past. Fortunately, although much remains to be done, the investment agencies of the 19 MENA governments are, as a group, off to a good start.
The end of 2011 was undeniably a momentous time across the Arab World with uprisings first emerging in Tunisia and Egypt and then spreading to Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Expectations of 2012 were high as old regimes were discarded and new governments brought with them hopes of more equitable societies and opportunities for all.
I was a high school teacher in the Bay area in California and reverse immigrated to Egypt. I had a few hours available to me and I wanted to teach, so one day by coincidence someone in my church asked me to teach Arabic in Cairo’s “Garbage City.” What I witnessed was a horror initially, but then fell in love with a group of people with such an incredible work ethic. Over the years, I’ve watched an amazing transformation of their trade.
My visit to the United States to attend the World Bank's Spring Meetings 2012 in Washington, D.C. was an important event in my career. It has opened up a new horizon for me and allowed me to take a closer look at American society and how it deals with other nations, particularly developing countries. It has also offered me a chance to get acquainted with the World Bank’s work and efforts in supporting various countries, including Yemen.
“I was hoping to hear about Arab countries...why are we hearing a case study of Pakistan?” exclaimed an attendee of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Chief Economist’s Forum at the World Bank. Although the purpose was to draw upon lessons learned from a variety of countries, I still felt that the attendee’s criticism hinted at an exclusionary paradigm - even if the object of the criticism was from an Economics Nobel Laureate, Roger Myerson. True: over 20 Arab countries make up the MENA region. Yet the topics and recent remarks at the Wharton Business School’s MENA conference challenge the exclusionary paradigm that fuels such criticism.
My Djiboutian counterparts told me the embarrassed woman was being criticized because her 5-year-old son still doesn’t speak. Rather than follow the ancestral tradition of giving water to her newborn, she chose to exclusively breastfeed her last child until he was 6 months old. The group asserted that this choice had led to the child’s developmental problems. My immediate reaction to the scene was, “Peer pressure is a true obstacle to promoting optimal breastfeeding in Djibouti!”
Jonathan Masters, Associate Staff Writer for the CFR.org of the Council on Foreign Relations recently interviewed World Bank’s Manuela V. Ferro, Director of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management for the Middle East and North Africa region. They discussed the economic challenges central to the political transformations sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the issues presented include the need to tackle corruption, slow growth, inequality and unemployment that helped arouse protest movements in the region.
Youthink!, World Bank’s youth site, is hosting a Q&A session with renowned Algerian novelist Yasmina Khadra. His 10 best-sellers have been translated into 33 languages. His most recent novel, “The African Equation” portrays the hardships of people living in Africa. Khadra is adapting two of his novels for film: “The Attack” directed by filmmaker Ziad Doueiri, and, “Ce que le jour doit à la nuit,” by Alexandre Arcady. Post your questions for Yasmina Khadra on Youthink’s Facebook and Twitter wall through January 2, 2012.