THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2019

Creating the Pathways from Poverty to Prosperity

Middle East and North Africa: Slower rate of growth

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has improved its prosperity over the last 10 years, albeit at a far slower rate than the global average.

The reasons for the region’s increase in prosperity, and issues holding back further improvement, are outlined below.

Improvements
  • MENA’s economic environment has improved over the last decade, evidenced by improvements in both enterprise conditions and market access and infrastructure. In particular, increased internet usage and network coverage have driven a vast improvement in the region’s communications infrastructure, typified by Iran (110th) and Oman (43rd).
  • Education improvements across MENA have resulted in higher enrolment and completion rates across each level of education since 2009, resulting in 16 countries improving in education. Saudi Arabia (60th) exemplifies this as it seeks to move from a resource economy towards a knowledge-based economy, increasing its tertiary enrolment rate from 31% to 69% in a decade.
Deteriorations
  • MENA has suffered the greatest deterioration in safety and security of any region over the last decade due to conflicts in Libya (161st), Yemen (163rd) and Syria (164th). These countries are among the most affected by both terrorism and war and civil conflict in the world.
  • Ten countries in the region have seen a decline in personal freedom since 2009. Freedoms of association and speech have declined the most, with protests being put down violently in Turkey (146th) and Egypt (161st). More positively, Tunisia (88th) has experienced significant improvements in press freedoms, civic autonomy from the state, and rights of association.
  • MENA’s economic quality has deteriorated as a result of less fiscal sustainability across the region; 11 countries have a greater budget balance deficit this year than they did a decade ago.