Transforming Arab Economies: Traveling the Knowledge and Innovation Road

Monday, May 27, 2013

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The imperative of creating millions of good jobs is the first of many daunting challenges confronting the Arab world. To meet those challenges, Arab countries would do well to embrace a model of economic growth based on knowledge and innovation, building on the global move toward the knowledge economy.

Over the past decade, some countries of the region have spurred growth and improved their global competitiveness by taking the first steps in the direction of the knowledge economy. To go farther, however, Arab societies must deepen their commitment to reforms in four key policy areas: developing more open and entrepreneurial economies, preparing a better-educated and more highly skilled population, improving their capabilities for innovation and research, and expanding information and communication technologies and their applications. The success of a knowledge-economy strategy depends on coordinated progress on all four fronts, with bold approaches tailored to each country’s challenges and opportunities.

Transforming Arab Economies: Traveling the Knowledge and Innovation Road has been developed by the CMI, with the World Bank, the EIB and ISESCO.


Recent events in the Arab world have affirmed the need for greater opportunity and dignity for all. Governments across the region are grappling with the challenge of job creation, especially jobs for youth and women. Transforming Arab Economies: Traveling the Knowledge and Innovation Road provides countries of the Arab world with a new approach to development strategies that can help them achieve sustainable growth and create jobs—both key for ensuring social and economic inclusion. This work speaks directly to those in government, business, and civil society across the Arab world who are keen to work in new and different ways, using knowledge, innovation, and technology as key drivers to shape a more inclusive growth path and a better tomorrow.
Inger Andersen, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank

CMI is to be congratulated on producing this daring and timely work. Envisioning the future is a bold step and a major challenge at a time when the protagonists of the Arab revolutions are so preoccupied with the present. The creation of wealth and jobs will require considerable changes in the political arena toward greater democracy, a more resolute search for social justice through more inclusive policies, and a new departure toward the knowledge economy at the economic level. Given the diversity of the countries of the Arab world, the knowledge economy will have the best chance of taking hold if the complementarities between the Gulf states and the countries of the Maghreb and the Mashreq are carefully exploited. This important work deserves to be widely discussed within the halls of government in the Arab world.
Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdallah, President of the National Observatory of Human Development and member of the Academy of Science and Technology, Morocco.

Transforming Arab Economies not only makes a powerful and compelling case for the adoption of a knowledge- and innovation-driven growth scenario for the Arab world, it also underlines the importance of a clear vision to drive the deep reforms needed to make it happen, reforms that cut across sectorial and ministerial silos. Such a vision should ensure that reforms are pursued in a participatory fashion that guarantees broad-based support for implementation. The report also highlights the idea of “growth spots” that would facilitate the adoption of the new economic model. This timely and very important report from the World Bank should be required reading for all decision makers and concerned citizens in the Arab world. Our future is being shaped right now by the actions we take to bend the future to our dreams.
Ismail Serageldin, Librarian of Alexandria, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, former World Bank vice president

Chapter summaries

The full version of Transforming Arab Economies: Traveling the Knowledge and Innovation Road (World Bank 2013) has three parts.

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Part 1. Key issues: Why, what, and how?
Part 2. Policy pillars
Part 3. Diversification initiatives
Transforming Arab Economies (Condensed version)6.9 MB
Transformer les économies arabes (Rapport de synthèse)7.2 MB
FULL REPORT - Transforming Arab Economies: Traveling the Knowledge and Innovation Road7.7 MB