Category Archives: Middle East and North Africa

Fostering a Spirit of Entrepreneurship in Bahrain

Bahrain graduates

For the past four years, the Center for International Private Enterprise has been working in partnership with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to assist local partners in Bahrain with fostering a new spirit of entrepreneurship. The program approached this issue from two tracks: the first educated young aspiring entrepreneurs on the leadership and business skills needed for a successful initiative, and the second worked with the private sector and government entities to examine the environment for entrepreneurship and suggest necessary changes to legislation and regulations to make it easier to start and grow a business in Bahrain. As the program comes to a close, there are many outcomes to be celebrated that will likely impact Bahrain’s business environment for years to come.

Read More…

Small Business in Egypt: the Heavy Burden of Following the Rules

Sayed Diab makes his living providing sound systems and digital services for events like this CIPE discussion. (Photo: CIPE Egypt)

By Ahmed ElSawy

This post originally appeared in Arabic on the CIPE Arabia blog.

Sayed Diab spent 26 years of his life working as a technician supplying organizations with sound systems and related digital services for their events and conferences. Six years ago he started his own business in this field and has since made his living providing his services to CIPE, other NGOs, business associations, and think tanks in Cairo, Egypt.

Diab recently sat down for an interview about his experiences running his own business in Egypt and what he has learned as a small business owner from the many CIPE events and discussions he has worked on.

Read More…

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #9: CIPE’s Abdulwahab Alkebsi on What’s Needed to Build Democracy in the Middle East

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with Abdulwahab Alkebsi (right).

CIPE Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa Abdulwahab Alkebsi’ s passion for democracy work goes back to his childhood in Yemen.

In this podcast, Alkebsi discuses how his childhood in Yemen informs his democracy work today, the success of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States, in contrast to the situation in Europe, and the need for a reassessment in the Middle East of what Islam is and what it is not.

He also talks about the correlation between the institutions that build the Islamic faith and those that build democracy, what is happening on the ground in the Middle East today that makes him hopeful for the future, and the exciting contribution the private sector is making to building democratic institutions in Africa.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show!

Girl Rising: Civic Education and its Role in Economic Empowerment

15163201417_eb5030126c_z

Participants in the civic education program (photo: SEF)

Women comprise more than half of those displaced by the Syrian civil war, a conflict affecting more than 12 million people. As entire communities’ social services and educational structures have been upended and 3 million children forced to abandon their education, girls and young women have been disproportionately affected by the unrest. Those who would otherwise attend school, complete their educations, and pursue diverse careers are being forced into early marriages and motherhood, sexually exploited, and used as unskilled labor in dangerous working conditions in large urban centers like Amman, Beirut, and Istanbul.

There is a strong correlation between education and positive health and socioeconomic outcomes for women and girls, yet education is often one of the first things to be disrupted when conflicts break out. In areas where traditional educational models become unavailable or unfeasible, civic education courses that nurture cultures of peace, promote dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution, and build the cognitive and participatory skills of participants can help fill a critical gap.

Read More…

Disruptive Development: Harnessing the Power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa

2015 TechGirls at iD Tech Camp at American University

Many say that we are in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by rapid and transformative technological advancement on a scale the world has never seen before. This Fourth Industrial Revolution has already radically and fundamentally altered the way we live, work, and interact with one another, and, unlike the ones that preceded it, is evolving at an exponential, rather than a linear, pace. Its possibilities are nearly endless.

And while previous industrial revolutions were slow to spread to certain areas of the world—thus engendering spheres of “industrialized” and “non-industrialized”—the technological nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has meant that the playing field has evened somewhat; industry in virtually every country has been disrupted, and transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance is all but inevitable, if it hasn’t already started.

From cell phones to self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaking up what we know—or think we know—about almost everything. This presents an opportunity to recalibrate the lens through which we view and approach critical development issues, and provides a challenge to traditional mechanisms for delivering key goods and services.

Read More…

Leveraging the Youth Bulge to Transform the Arab World

Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.

Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.

Last Thursday marked five years since Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power in what has come to be known as the Jasmine Revolution. A well-waged campaign of civil resistance, provoked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, ultimately led to the upending of Ben Ali’s autocracy and catalyzed a series of protests across the Middle East and North Africa.

Five years after the first Arab Spring uprising, we have the benefit of hindsight. We can pinpoint, with relative certainty, the various elements that contributed to the revolutions occurring when and where they did. Five years on, and we continue to grapple with both the inspiring and heartbreaking implications of revolutions in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. A critical element that drove the protests, often mentioned in the early days but since relegated to the margins of the conversation, is the youth populations of these countries.

Read More…

Kuwait Needs More Young Entrepreneurs

Photo: Hanna Rhodin

Photo: Hanna Rhodin

By Hanna Rhodin

There is a long history of a bustling merchant culture in Kuwait. Since the 18th century, the country has been known for trade: whether in exchanging goods with India, boat-building, or its pearling industry. Wealth has come to be associated with certain families within the country, thanks to their past success in business that, in some cases, dates back generations. Today these families continue to dominate the private sector. However, according to the official statistics, nearly 85 percent of the Kuwaiti population is still employed by the government. While the last decade has showed a surge in entrepreneurial initiatives, roadblocks and barriers remain.

Read More…