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The MENA region covers Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen and stretches into the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and West Bank and Gaza. It population is about 5 of the total world population and almost equivalent to the population of the European Union.
The region has vast petroleum and gas reserves making it a vital force in global economic stability. It has 810.98 billion barrels of oil reserves as well as 2868.86 of the world’s natural gas reserves which are 60% and 45% respectively.
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The relative strength of MENA countries, as a group, includes regulation and supervision as well as financial openness. But they need to do more to reinforce the institutional environment and to promote nonbank financial sector development. The MENA region performs better than most other developing country regions, but ranks far behind the industrialized countries and East Asia. However, within the MENA region there is substantial variation in the degree of financial development; some countries have advanced financial sectors, while for others progress in this area has been limited.
With this large opulation, the countries have an annual per capita income of more than $2000. Apart from its vast energy resources, other characteristics that make it an important region are its fast growth rate which makes it a potential investment zone with a booming saving rate incredibly high. This underlines the desirable investment future of the region especially in the financial arena. The number of investors is likely to rise in a fast rate thus interfering with the available labor stability which is facing the most upward task- staying up to date with technology.
The region faces an approximate entrance of 74 million expatriates over the next 20 years. This is probably likely to interfere with the stability of labor as the current unemployment rates are as high as 15 million. Thus, the region faces the uphill task of creating employment. The dynamism of the education levels will outweigh the residents who are invariably less educated and thus threatened by this fast employee entrants who are more likely to be more educated.
With future economic growth, job creation strategies and fostering investment the topmost agenda of the governments, stability is key. Most of them have been able to maintain the stability with lots of success save for Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The African counterparts have equally ensured the same with economic stability superseding the power that comes with politics.
The closed economic systems of MENA allowed the region to fall behind in foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, which led the region to be one of the least economically, integrated regions in the world. Most of the closed mindedness resulted from Pan-Arabism and the state-led development mindset. MENA economies are fairly integrated in regards to fuel and hydrocarbon exports, but beyond this they are fairly closed systems. If one looks at trade specifically and excludes the contribution of oil exports, trade declined from 53 percent of GDP in the 1980s to 43 percent of GDP in 2000. Intra-regional trade is also very low at only about 10 percent of total trade.
Fostered by the diverse cultural orientation that shapes the social landscape, there is high appreciation of multiracial existence. This has served the entrance and exit of investors and as time goes by, this realization will affect the running of systems and thus induce an investor friendly environment, as much as the banking sector continues to amiably grow, other economic hub are likely to spring and this wont be long.
To conclude, the opening up of the region has necessitated the influx of investors. This is likely to impact on the growth of the hub as an economic and investment powerhouse with due respect to the potential, in terms of resources, that the region possess. Therefore, it can be viewed as a good zone for investment.
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