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[Workshop] Mobilizing Middle East and North Africa Diaspora for Global Integration, Investment, and Knowledge Transfer

  • The World Bank and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) organize the first regional MENA diaspora workshop to be held in Marseille, France, on May 29th, 2015.


    The workshop brings together policy makers, development actors and members of diaspora from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to discuss how to best mobilize the MENA diaspora to facilitate regional and global economic integration of their home countries.


    Regional Context


    At least 18 million MENA citizens live abroad, and for some countries, they represent a significant share of their population (e.g., Lebanon, Palestine). They are also the source of critical revenues in countries such as Morocco. Governments have usually considered emigrants as a positive resource for home countries’ economies for three main reasons: (1) they reduce the pressure on the domestic labor market in times of high unemployment; (2) they contribute to reducing poverty through money transfer; (3) they facilitate transfer of knowledge and know-how from abroad.


    While the benefits arising from remittances have drawn attention of policy makers and development partners, there is still little attention given to the contribution of diaspora in terms of investment, business creation, trade, knowledge transfer, and professional networking. This aspect is nonetheless critical, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, one of the least integrated regions in the world, and which suffers from lackluster private sector investment and entrepreneurship.


    The Arab Spring has given hope and room for policy and institutional reforms and has opened doors to more business players in the region. Governments in MENA have recognized the importance of the diaspora at different levels and in different ways. Their actions vary from simple recognition in public speeches, to implementing programs and sometimes institutions to maintain and strengthen the identity link with home country, attract their investment, or reduce the cost of remittances’ transfer.


    Scope of the Activity


    The activity seeks to foster an understanding of how to strengthen diaspora business contributions to their home countries. It explores mechanisms through which diaspora members can contribute to the globalization of the MENA region and highlights the role of governments, diaspora members and development partners.


    The workshop focuses on 5 MENA countries where there is either an active diaspora agenda/activity, or where the World Bank has initiated some dialogue with diaspora associations or the government, mainly: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia.


    This one-day workshop is composed of three major sessions:


    Session 1 – The voice of Diaspora: The 1st session sheds light on MENA diaspora expectations and motivations in light of recent developments in the region and shares successful and inspiring non-MENA diaspora-led initiatives that have contributed to the development of a sector and created businesses and jobs in home country.

    Session 2 – Government Programs to Mobilize Diaspora: The 2nd sessions Discusses government programs and the work of development institutions dedicated to mobilize diaspora investments and trade opportunities.   

    Session 3 – Key Takeaways and Country Specific Priorities: The 3rd session Identifies policy priority areas and projects that different stakeholders can undertake.


    Expected Outputs


    The workshop will also present the findings from an online survey and series of consultations previously held with diaspora members in Paris, New York, and Washington DC.


    The results of the survey, focus groups, and outcomes of the workshop will better inform the World Bank, development agencies, think tanks and the respective governments on policies and programs that could enhance the role of residents abroad and their contributions to regional economic development of the private sector and local expertise in their country of origin.


    Links to Resources



    Experts’ views (Video interviews in French and English)


    Participants PowerPoint presentations






    Mariem Malouche
    Senior Economist
    Middle East and North Africa region
    World Bank