This Hanukkah Give the Gift of Truth

The Media Line led twenty years ago in pioneering the American independent news agency in the Middle East, arguably the first in the region. We have always stayed true to our mission: to provide you with contextual sourced and trustworthy news. In an age of fake news masquerading as journalism, The Media Line plays a crucial role in providing fact-based news that deserves your support.

We're proud of the dozens of young students we've trained in our Press and Policy Student Program who will form the vanguard of the next generation of journalists to the benefit of countless millions of news readers.

Non-profit news needs public support. Please support us with your generous contributions:
Donate
We thank our loyal readers and wish you all the happiest of holidays
The Media Line
COVID Costs MENA Region $200B, World Bank says
Iranian men, just one of them wearing a protective mask, sit in front of a closed shop in the seaport city of Anzali, Iran, 227 miles north of Tehran, Oct. 9, 2021. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

COVID Costs MENA Region $200B, World Bank says

The international financial institution says the region was ill-prepared to handle the pandemic and must overcome “historic underinvestment” in public health

The coronavirus pandemic will have cost the economies of the Middle East and North Africa $200 billion in gross domestic product loss by the end of 2021, according to a regional economic update, titled “Overconfident: How Economic and Health Fault Lines Left the Middle East and North Africa Ill-Prepared to Face COVID-19,” that the World Bank released last week.

The World Bank defines the MENA region as including Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The report, however, does not mention Malta, and Israel appears in only two of the reports’ many graphs and nowhere in the tables or text, so it is not clear to what extent the report covers these countries.

The report calculates the economic loss by comparing the region’s actual GDP with its predicted GDP if there had been no pandemic.

It says that the MENA region economies shrank by 3.8% in 2020, and are forecast to grow by just 2.8% in 2021.

Measured on the basis of per capita GDP, which is a more accurate way to assess standards of living, the situation is even worse. Per capita GDP in the region declined by an estimated 5.4% in 2020, and it is predicted that the 2021 increase will be only 1.1%.

As a result, in 13 of the 16 countries for which the report makes macroeconomic forecasts, standards of living will be lower next year than they were prior to the pandemic.

The region’s health systems were ill-prepared for the COVID crisis, the bank charges. Among other problems: A bloated public sector and high public debt crowded out investments in public health, leaving the region’s health infrastructure in a precarious position when the virus hit. MENA was one of the only regions in the developing world where government expenditure as a share of GDP increased during the decade prior to the pandemic, rising from 16% to 18% between 2009 and 2019.

The bank warns that, to handle future health crises, countries in the region need to pay more attention to timely public health data and take measures to correct “historic underinvestment” in public health.

“The pandemic’s crippling impact on economic activity in the region is a painful reminder that economic development and public health are inextricably linked. It is also a sad reality check that MENA’s health systems, which were considered relatively developed, cracked at the seams under the crisis,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. “Going forward, there must be a stronger focus on building core public health functions and leveraging the power of health data and preventive health systems to accelerate the region’s recovery and to prepare for future public health emergencies that may arise due to future pandemics, climate-related disasters and even social conflict.”

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 4:15 pm Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.

 

CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Afghanistan155,6827,238126,75721,687
Algeria204,9005,862140,46758,571
Bahrain275,8621,390273,851621
Cyprus120,12056090,75528,805
Djibouti13,34717912,971197
Egypt314,97717,806265,66331,508
Iran5,754,047123,4985,280,624349,925
Iraq2,030,49822,6811,958,46749,350
Israel1,312,1117,9591,281,88222,270
Jordan837,25510,841812,05114,363
Kuwait412,1962,455409,125616
Lebanon631,6428,400605,58217,660
Libya348,6474,849276,04067,758
Mauritania36,50978535,315409
Morocco940,50314,500919,7136,290
Oman304,0254,103299,362560
Pakistan1,261,68528,2011,193,17540,309
Palestinian Territories416,6764,288398,42413,964
Qatar237,741607236,196938
Saudi Arabia547,7978,755536,8172,225
Somalia21,2691,1809,92710,162
Sudan38,8242,92832,3953,501
Syria37,7942,36624,72010,708
Tunisia710,32225,053683,3801,889
Turkey7,540,22366,8416,987,778485,604
United Arab Emirates738,1522,116731,6324,404
Yemen9,4671,7935,9751,699
Total25,252,271377,23423,629,0441,245,993

 

Did you know we’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary as the 1st American News Agency exclusively covering the Middle East?

  • The Middle East landscape is changing rapidly.
  • The roads in the region open to new possibilities.
  • The Media Line continues to pave the way to a far greater understanding of the region’s land, people, policies and governments through our trusted, fact-based news.

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Please make your gift today.
Thank you!

We paved the way to be the Trusted Mid East News you can rely on!

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.