Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

A region consisting of 19 countries ranging from oil-exporting nations in the Gulf to lower and middle-income countries

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What is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)?

MENA is an abbreviation that stands for the Middle East and North Africa. The Middle East and North Africa is a region comprising of a heterogeneous group of countries.

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

According to the World Atlas, the MENA region consists of 19 countries ranging from oil-exporting nations in the Gulf to lower and middle-income countries. It accounts for approximately 45% and 60% of the world’s natural gas and crude oil reserves, respectively. The region serves as an important source of global economic stability due to its substantial petroleum and natural gas reserves.


  • MENA is an acronym that refers to the Middle East and North Africa, whose primary source of income is marked by petroleum and natural gas marking. 
  • The MENA region accounts for approximately 45% and 60% of the world’s natural gas and crude oil reserves, respectively. 
  • The structural developments in some of the member countries of the MENA region are supervised by the International Monetary Funds (IMF) and the World Bank.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region

The MENA region includes most of the 14 OPEC nations. Although there are no standardized member countries in the geographical zone, it typically stretches from North West to Southwest Asia and down to West Africa.

Countries that make up the MENA region are Bahrain, Oman, Libya, Qatar, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Tunisia, and Yemen. Sudan and Ethiopia are included sometimes.

Economic Reforms of the MENA

Structural adjustments

Despite the ongoing conflicts affecting the region, some member countries are embarking on structural adjustment programs. The International Monetary fund (IMF) and the World Bank actively fund the programs. Key areas targeted by the economic improvements include the liberalization of trade and capital accounts, fiscal reforms, and flexible foreign exchange.

Countries that consistently adopt structural adjustments are reaping the benefits of higher growth rates since the inception of the reform programs. However, deducing the success of the programs in the MENA remains a challenge. It is based on the premise that the reforming countries are starting to benefit from the debt and credit reliefs extended during the adjustment period.

Also, the MENA region is now realizing the success of comprehensive trade and liberalization of financial programs, including tax breaks, tariff reduction, free trade zones, privatization, and other incentives to encourage FDI.

Capital inflows

In the face of the successful programs, capital flows to the MENA  region remain low. The MENA region’s share of FDI programs fell considerably in addition to being short-term funds. A country like Turkey, for example, is facing uncertainties and instabilities courtesy of the short-term capital flows.

Additional factors attributed to minimal capital flaws in the region are bank defaults from rent-seeking policies engineered by the IMF and endemic corruption. Additionally, poverty rates and income inequalities continue to worsen in the MENA region since the implementation of reform policies. Previously, the region recorded the lowest levels of poverty levels and income inequalities.

Trade and Development in the MENA Region

The MENA  region is considered a thriving hub of trade, thanks to trade routes between Southern Africa, East Asia, and Europe. A new trade pattern was instituted between the 17th and 18th centuries due to the shift in the balance of power. It involved trading the MENA’s primary products and raw materials with manufacturers’ exports from Europe.

However, the region subsequently ceased to enjoy the benefits of crafts production and manufactures. During this time, the MENA region faced opposition in its quest to industrialize. It served to disrupt the inter-regional trade in manufactured goods and agriculture, as well as a shift in the pattern of trade and production.

A lack of diversified production structures also erected barriers to the industrialization of the MENA region. The 18-member Arab Free Trade Agreement, alongside several bilateral association agreements with the EU, was put forth to reverse the trend.

Further Considerations

The term “MENA” is used in discussions around the poor relations of countries in the Arab states. The World Bank refers to the MENA as a region in turmoil, exemplified by the proxy war between Iran Saudi Arabia and the diplomatic standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

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