World Bank keen on more development in MENA

DUBAI - The World Bank is keen on implementing more development projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region after assessing the requirements of each country in the region, said a senior World Bank official yesterday.

By Babu Das Augustine

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Published: Wed 20 Aug 2003, 11:48 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 7:51 PM

"The region's requirements are diverse. Priorities differ from country to country. While some require financial assistance, some others require technical assistance and consultancy services from the Bank's huge international resource base. The World Bank is committed to assisting and working with governments and organisations in the region," said Christiaan Poortman, World Bank Vice-President the Middle East and North Africa.

The World Bank's main objectives in the Middle East and the North Africa region are to strengthen the momentum for building a climate of investment, job creation and sustainable growth, and to empower people in the development process.

Currently, the World Bank has several development initiatives underway in the MENA region including, loan to promote market driven skills for Egypt's workers; water project in West Bank, loan to Morocco in improving asset management, support to water management projects in water scarce areas of Yemen, AIDS and disease control projects in Djibouti; Knowledge economy development project in Jordan, and pollution control project in Iran to name a few.

In addition to the above, there are a number of consultancy projects underway in the region. "In the Gulf region, the World Bank projects are more in terms of technical assistance and consultancy services mainly because the countries in this region are resource rich and do not require financial assistance. However, many Gulf States including the UAE and Saudi Arabia are working closely with the World Bank," Poortman said.

In 19 projects across 11 countries, the World Bank assistance to the MENA region in 2003 is approximately $1 billion. The total current portfolio of projects under implementation in the region is worth $4.8 billion. The cumulative assistance to the region stands at $36 billion.

The World Bank plans to reach out to more countries and communities in the region in the future. Admitting that there have been shortage of awareness about the development role of World Bank in the region, Poortman said: "The Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Dubai will help in bringing more awareness of these two institutions' role in development all over the world and its potential in the region."

As a first initiative to enhance its communications in the MENA region, The World Bank yesterday launched an Arabic website, which includes dozens of detailed web pages about the institution's work and new translations of Bank publications and issues and briefs.

The launch comes ahead Dubai 2003. The site is currently a mirror of the Bank's main homepage translated into Arabic. By September there will also be a regional site focusing on the Bank's work in the Middle East and North Africa (MNA).

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