OECD Updates Analysis of Covid-19 Responses in MENA

  • 18th, June, 2020
OECD Updates Analysis of Covid-19 Responses in MENA

The new OECD report is dated 9 June and states that there had been more than 320,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the MENA region, of which 46% have been in Iran. Among Arab economies, Saudi Arabia has the most confirmed cases, followed by Qatar and the UAE. 

The OECD comments that MENA governments reacted early to the threat of Covid-19 – for example Saudi Arabia suspended pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina on 26 February. Many governments began to relax confinement measures in late April or May (for example, Lebanon's five-stage reopening plan began on 27 April). However, social distancing measures have remained in place: Bahrain, Morocco, Qatar and the UAE require face masks to be worn in public places, and in Morocco violators risk three months in gaol. 

Among the economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis will be a decline in remittances into the region. These totalled $62bn in 2018 and the OECD is predicting that they will fall to $42bn in 2020. Egypt and Lebanon are likely to be hard hit. Egypt received remittances of $26.8bn in 2019, amounting to nearly 10% of GDP. In Lebanon, remittances were $7.3bn in 2019, equivalent to 12.5% of GDP, the OECD report says.

The report also considered the impact of Covid-19 on trade, oil prices, tourism and private sector business. Appendices give country-by-country overviews of health systems and containment measures; and of economic and social measures taken by goernments to support households and businesses. 

Here is a link to the full report, on the OECD's website.