Major Problems in the Arab World

People in the Arab region (or the Middle East) are suffering from the following problems:
1. Housing problems
2. Unemployment
3. Difficulty in marriage and family formation.
4. Lack of food security
By statistics and numbers or by referring to trusted sources such as academic articles and books, I need you to prove that Arabic (Middle Eastern) countries suffer from these four problems. If you couldn’t find sources about the Arabic region as an average, you can give examples of any Arabic country (Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, etc.) that have the appropriate sources. I already started writing about unemployment to help you better understand what I need.

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“The average unemployment rate in the Arabic region was 23.5% in 2010 (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2011). In Egypt, the unemployment rate among youth was even higher at about 30% (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA). It is important to know that 50% of the Arab region’s population is below the age of 25 (ESCWA, 2009). ……….. “

Below are two helpful papers that I need you to look at so you can understand my topic. But please don’t refer to them directly; however, you can refer to the same references that were used in those papers.

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The Arab world is characterized by prolonged life spans and high birth rates, which have resulted in high population growth. Most of the population are youths between 15 and 24 years, accounting for over half of the population. Equally, approximately one out of five youths anticipate finishing school and finding a job. In addition, around 30 percent of the population is children awaiting job opportunities when they are through their studies (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2011). Eventually, unemployment will continue to be a challenge since the work demand does not equal the supply of work opportunities.

Correspondingly, the average unemployment rate in the Arab region was 23.5% in 2010 (ILO, 2011). In fact, the unemployment rate in Egypt among the youth was even higher, about 30 percent in the same period. Moreover, it was reported that North Africa and the Middle East are two regions experiencing the highest unemployment rate in the Arab world. The figures stood at a 10.3 percent unemployment rate in 2010. In addition, there exist disparities in employment rates in the Arab world. In fact, in Yemen, more than 35 percent of the population is unemployed, while only 0.5 percent of the population in Qatar is unemployed (World Bank/IBRD, 2008).

Markedly, the percentage of youth willing to work but lacking opportunity is surprisingly higher than anywhere in the world. Evidently, the problem of unemployment is bound to persist in the Arab world. In fact, the productive age of Arabs is not in the workforce since the employment-to-population ratio of this region is around 45 percent. Ultimately, the low participation rates indicate that many youths are avoiding employment and prefer living under remittances from abroad and the support of their family (ILO, 2011).

Housing Problem

In the Arabic world, the housing market has three categories: rental, home ownership, and social housing. World Bank (2005) observes that 65 percent of the population lived in self-owned houses between 1995 and 2007. However, this percentage varies from 38% in Egypt to 80% in Tunisia and Syria. In addition, nine out of 11 countries in the Arab world have a share of more than 50% of subsidized housing (World Bank, 2005). In addition, social and rental housing has a larger percentage in most countries; for instance, in the United Arab Emirates, the rental market stands at 45% due to the high number of expatriate workers.

Despite the countries’ high homeownership ratio, the affordable middle and low-income housing shortage is still prevalent. Chiefly, supply rigidities are attributed to land supply constraints that appear to exist in almost all Arab countries. Notably, after 2000, there were positive changes in housing policies, but the challenge of affordable housing persisted. The supply rigidities vary across countries and in all income groups. In fact, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, and Iran face housing shortages that are chronic in all households. On the contrary, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Syria experience shortages only for low-income earners.

In addition, Bahrain and UAE experience an excess supply of affordable housing compared to other Arab nations (World Bank, 2005). Evidently, the housing problem will persist in this region unless housing policies that link the housing finance market to macroeconomics are adopted. This will encourage more developed housing finance, which will assist the households to have a better smooth consumption.

Food Insecurity

An annual Global Food Security Index (2014) assessment indicates that the world produces enough food to feed everyone. Notwithstanding, it is estimated that one in eight individuals, a population close to 870 million, suffer from chronic undernourishment. In this context, it is believed that between production and consumption, there are food wastes that occur throughout the world’s food supply chain. Indeed, in the Arab world, the population depends heavily on food imports, and those countries are focusing on ring-fencing supplies from developed countries while they endeavor to put domestic food storage.

The improved availability scores are a clear indication that there is a decline in household expenditure. This key measure of vulnerability reduced food prices by supporting reduced agricultural tariffs (International Monetary Fund, 2009). However, this was short-lived after the infamous Arab springs and the weakened Eurozone took place. Shortly, the overall economic performance of the Arab world decreased as the war and revolution persisted. Indeed, it was only Saudi Arabia and Yemen remained stable and maintained their food security. In this region, safety and quality scores in terms of food security were the most affected. Accordingly, many countries saw a worsening of the score, and currently, they are still struggling with food security issues (Global Food Security Index, 2014).

Marriage and Family Formation

In the current Arab world, there are challenges that exist in the formation and starting of families. In fact, most unemployed youth experience delayed adulthood and take time to form a family due to the cost attached and civil requirements from their government. The search for jobs delays family building and, consequently, marriage formation. The rising costs of autonomy influence the quality of in-demand jobs since individuals can choose the kind of job they want. Therefore, the youths spend much of their time waiting for the most convenient job, a situation that delays marriage and family formation. Data indicates that the region is lagging behind, with 50 % of men aged between 25-29 years still unmarried. In addition, the average years of unmarried Lebanese women rose from 21 to 32 percent between the years 1970 to 2008 (United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2013).

Evidently, the delay in family formation is due to economic problems and prohibitive marriage costs facing young people. In particular, the marriage cost is astronomically high due to traditions and habits, such as offerings and dowry. Surprisingly, marriage in Egypt is valued at around 43 combined monthly salaries of a young man. The dowry is equivalent to seven years of combined pay for a father and his son in poor families. Therefore, many men migrate abroad to richer Gulf countries to secure money to pay for their marriage (UNDP, 2013).



International Labor Organization. (2011). Global Employment Trends 2011: The challenge of a Jobs Recovery. International Labor Organization, Geneva. Retrieved from.

International Monetary Fund (2009). World Economic Outlook, October 2009, Chapter 3, Lessons for Monetary Policy from Asset Price Fluctuations. Washington: International Monetary Fund.

Global Food Security Index (2014). An Annual Measure of the State of Global Food Security. The Economist Intelligence Unit.1-70.

United Nations Development Programme, UNDP (2013). Expanding Youth Opportunities in the Arab Region. Arab Human Development Report. Regional Bureau for Arab


World Bank (2005). The Macroeconomic and Sectoral Performance of Housing Supply Policies in Selected MENA Countries: A Comparative Analysis. Washington: World Bank Group.

World Bank/IBRD. (2008). The Road Not Traveled: Education Reform in the Middle East and North Africa. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

(IBRD)/The World Bank, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from.

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