Oil Exporters in Middle East and North Africa Have Made Uneven Progress to Diversify Economies

April 22, 2019

Oil Exporters in Middle East and North Africa Have Made Uneven Progress to Diversify Economies

Pressures have risen in recent years for oil-rich countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to diversify exports as they face uncertain oil revenues, growing unemployment among young people, and rising concerns about climate change. Using IMF data on the performance of oil exporters outside the MENA region as a benchmark, goods exports by the MENA countries were on average 5 to 10 percent more diversified in 2014 than in the early 1980s. The countries that made the most progress on goods exports between 2010 and 2014 were the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar. Iraq, Kuwait, and Yemen especially lagged in diversification. Failures to reduce oil dependence and generate much-needed jobs are likely to increase social discontent and disruption in the region, possibly stirring conflicts and migration within MENA or to Europe and beyond.    

This chart was adapted from Adnan Mazarei’s Policy Brief, Efforts of Oil Exporters in the Middle East and North Africa to Diversify Away from Oil Have Fallen Short.