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Private Sector and Enterprise Development

Fostering Growth in the Middle East and North Africa

Lois Stevenson

This important and well-researched book examines the challenges to private sector growth in twelve Middle East and North African (MENA) countries, assessing comparative performance against a number of indicators and focussing on the special role of SMEs and entrepreneurial activity.
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Chapter 2: Introduction to the MENA-12 Country Context

Lois Stevenson


This chapter provides an overview of some of the demographic and structural features of the MENA-12 countries as a preface to a more thorough diagnostic of their economic and private sector development (PSD) challenges in successive chapters. OVERVIEW OF COUNTRY CHARACTERISTICS The MENA-12 countries represent a combination of republics, constitutional monarchies and parliamentary democracies. Except in Lebanon, Sudan and the West Bank & Gaza, over 90 per cent of the population in these countries is Muslim. Collectively they have an estimated population of about 360 million (larger than North America and almost three-quarters the size of the European Union), 2009 gross domestic product (GDP) of US$1.306 trillion1 and a labour force of about 111 million.2 The MENA12 countries are diverse in terms of size, levels of economic development,3 resource and labour abundance,4 and urbanization (Table 2.1). They range in population from around 4 million in Lebanon and the West Bank & Gaza to almost 80 million in Egypt,5 and in GDP per capita from about US$1000 in Yemen to over US$8700 in Turkey and Lebanon (World Development Indicators, WDI6). Five of the countries are rich in oil resources. They also differ substantially in their urban–rural population distribution. Over 70 per cent of the population of Lebanon (87 per cent), Jordan (78 per cent) and the West Bank & Gaza (72 per cent) lives in urban areas, compared to between 54 and 69 per cent in Turkey (69 per cent), Tunisia (67 per cent), Iraq (67 per...

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