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Evading accountability through internet shutdowns: Trends in Africa and the Middle East

March 9, 2023

Governments around the world frequently use internet shutdowns (see Box 1 for definition) to disguise and evade accountability for grave human rights violations, including illegitimate grabs for power, statesanctioned violence against peaceful protestors and even extra-judicial killings of political dissidents. This paper draws attention to key examples of this happening in recent years across Africa and the Middle East, and identifies common trends and factors driving the use of internet shutdowns in this way. The paper also makes recommendations for governments, the private sector, regulators and international human rights institutions as to how to call attention to and push back against this trend and ensure that victims of human rights abuses can properly call attention to their plight and access redress.

Giving in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Evolving towards strategic philanthropy

October 11, 2022

With the deep-seated Arab traditions of giving and generosity and the growing prosperity and ambitions of GCC philanthropists, all signs point to a promising future for philanthropy in the region. The GCC enjoys unique characteristics, including the combination of Arab and Islamic cultures of giving, growing wealth and prosperity, emerging new generations of philanthropists and ambitious government transformation plans. The intersection of these factors ultimately shapes the motivations, practices and trends in giving in the region.The goal of this study is to deepen knowledge about the motivations, practices and trends in philanthropy in the GCC. Due to the lack of data on giving in the region, this pioneering study is based on the review of existing literature and interviews with 32 philanthropists, experts and professionals across the six GCC countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The study reveals interesting trends in the region. Religious beliefs are tightly interwoven with family and societal values that shape giving. While a minimum level of giving is mandated by religion, philanthropic practices in the GCC extend far beyond this on a voluntary basis, which philanthropists see as part of their duty as members of society. 

Strengthening A Region Through Education

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (, explores Al Ghurair Foundation for Education's STEM Scholars Program. The scholarship aims to increase access for underserved populations to high-quality education throughout the Middle East & North Africa region. Two years into its journey, the Scholars program strategy has made measurable progress on three student outcomes: expanding underserved youth's access to education, improving their college and career readiness, and increasing skills development; as well as three community outcomes: cultivating a new cadre of young leaders, empowering youth to rewrite the Arab story, and encouraging scholars to take part in regional philanthropy.

Water Management in Fragile Systems: Building Resilience to Shocks and Protracted Crises in the Middle East and North Africa

August 28, 2018

This paper is part of an ongoing collaboration between the World Bank and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization to raise awareness about the importance of water management in fragile systems and to propose strategic responses. It is important to better understand these dynamics to ensure that water does not add to fragility, but rather promotes stability, and contributes to resilience in the region. This paper calls for redoubling efforts towards sustainable and efficient management of water resources, reliable and affordable delivery of water services to all and protection from water-related catastrophes.

Water Security in the Protracted Crises and Post-Conflict Reconstruction of the Middle East

April 1, 2018

This briefing note looks at what needs to be done to make water sector interventions appropriate for the current and future needs of countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are in protracted crises or conflicts.

Beyond Scarcity : Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa

August 28, 2017

Water has always been a source of risks and opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. Yet rapidly changing socioeconomic, political, and environmental conditions make water security a different, and more urgent, challenge than ever before. This report shows that achieving water security means much more than coping with water scarcity. It means managing water resources in a sustainable, efficient, and equitable way. It also involves delivering water services reliably and affordably, to reinforce relationships between service providers and water users and contribute to a renewed social contract. Water security also entails mitigating water-related risks such as floods and droughts. Water security is an urgent target, but it is also a target within reach. A host of potential solutions to the region's water management challenges exist. To make these solutions work, clear incentives are needed to change the way water is managed, conserved, and allocated. To make these solutions work, countries in the region will also need to better engage water users, civil society, and youth. The failure of policies to address water challenges can have severe impacts on people's well-being and political stability. The strategic question for the region is whether countries will act with foresight and resolve to strengthen water security, or whether they will wait to react to the inevitable disruptions of water crises.

Media Industries in the Middle East 2016

March 8, 2016

This report shows that an expansion of media channels and content has occurred coming from a wider and more diverse range of sources, including local and international players not usually associated with this industry in the Middle East.The region-wide study points to a general expansion of channels and offerings across all sectors, including broadcast, print, and digital media. The new content also tends to represent a wider variety, created by a broader diversity of content producers.Previous research had suggested that regional audiences are both hungry for content reflecting their own culture and are generally open to media from other parts of the world; however, they had been limited by the mass-market options available to them. The recent expansion of channels and offerings is obviously diminishing the disconnect between what audiences in the Middle East want and the media they can access.

Marine Resources in the Arab Region

January 1, 2015

The planet's oceans, seas and coastal areas provide goods and ecosystem services that are fundamental to human well-being, global food security and nutrition, international trade and economic development, climate regulation, storm protection, energy generation, waste absorption and recycling, recreation, and others. Coastal areas are home to a large percentage of the world's population and often depict above average rates of urbanization, economic development and population growth. Yet both globally and in the Arab region, these marine resources are at risk of irreversible damage to habitats, ecological functions, and biodiversity because of overfishing, climate change and ocean acidification, invasive species, pollution, unsustainable coastal area development and the unwanted impacts from the extraction of non-living ocean resources. Putting the uses of oceans and seas onto a sustainable path and adapting to climate change requires concerted and responsible actions across a wide range of actors and economic sectors. A regional approach to the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources is very much needed; what makes the issue more complex in the Arab region is the number of different marine eco-systems in the region. The region includes five main regional marine bodies of water, as highlighted in the Table 1. Each of these seas or oceans is guided by a regional conservation organization or programme, as well as a regional fisheries management arrangement.

Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2014

January 1, 2015

Ever since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, there has been considerable interest in the role that social media plays in the Middle East, and how this enabling technology can act as a tool for discourse and information sharing. Although the role of social media as an agent for cultural and political change in the region is probably overstated, there is no doubt that this remains a vibrant and fast moving environment. This report captures some of the key regional developments in this arena during 2014. It looks at major platforms and social media behaviours, pulling together insights from a wide variety of research and media. In doing this, it builds on previous annual round-ups for 2012 and 2013, as well as the quarterly market summaries produced by my old team at the Rassed research programme at Qatar's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR). 

Connected Women: How Mobile Can Support Women's Economic and Social Empowerment

March 1, 2014

This report explores how mobile services provided by Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation are enabling women to seize new opportunities and improve their lives. Accenture Sustainability Services were commissioned to conduct research on the services and to assess their potential social and economic impact if they were widely available across Vodafone's markets by 2020. It showcases the projects and the work of those involved and also poses the question -- what would the benefit to women and to society at large be if projects such as these were taken to scale and achieved an industrialscale of growth? This reflects the Foundation's commitment not solely to the development of pilots but rather the Trustees' ambition to see projects which lead to transformational change. In order to understand this more deeply, the Report looks at the benefits for women and society and providessome financial modelling for how the engagement of commercial players could achieve industrial, sustainable growth in these areas. Accenture has provided the modelling and, given the public benefit and understanding which the report seeks to generate, these are shared openly for all in the mobile industry to understand and share. It is the Trustees' hope that the collaboration with Oxford University and Accenture in the delivery of this Report will stimulate not only the expansion of existing charitable programmes but will also seed other philanthropic, social enterprise or commercial initiatives.

Enhanced Surveillance for Detection and Management of Infectious Diseases: Regional Collaboration in the Middle East

January 24, 2013

Formed before international negotiations of the revised International Health Regulations (IHR), the Middle East Consortium for Infectious Disease Surveillance (MECIDS) is a regional collaboration aimed at facilitating implementation of the revised IHR and, more broadly, improving the detection and control of infectious disease outbreaks among neighboring countries in an area of continuous dispute. Initially focused on enhancing foodborne disease surveillance, MECIDS has expanded the scope of its work to also include avian and pandemic influenza and other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Here, we describe the history and governance of MECIDS, highlighting key achievements over the consortium's seven-year history, and discuss the future of MECIDS.

Close to Home : UK poverty and the economic downturn

October 29, 2010

The UK is in recession, and things stand to get much worse for the fifth of the population already living in poverty, and for the millions more whose livelihoods will become more vulnerable as a result. The UK government has recognised its responsibility to help people through the recession, but needs to do more to help the poorest, and to provide security for all. As importantly, policy makers need to take the opportunity that the recession provides to rethink many of the policies of the past decades. This paper sets out a pro-poor policy response to the recession that lays down the foundations for a more equitable, sustainable society. It argues that government action should be based upon a long-term vision of moving to a society based on sustainability, with good quality jobs that allow people to have a more secure livelihood, but also backed up by a welfare state safety net which neither traps people nor leaves them living in poverty.