Examining the Economic Complexity of the Arab World to Identify Opportunities for New Exports and Jobs

Arab countries have experienced a long period of low growth. Their manufacturing sector is characterized by low competition, weak clustering, and a large number of microenterprises with fewer than 10 employees. As a result, the region's non-oil exports have been meager. The Philippines alone has more exports than the entire Middle East. This project will identify opportunities for Arab countries to establish new exports and generate jobs through more complex economic activities.

Structural transformation can stimulate economic growth and create jobs when countries expand their efforts to manufacture a wider range of goods. Yet Arab economies compare poorly to rest of the world in this regard. This project will apply the recent theory and tools of economic complexity to examine several Arab economies for their manufacturing capabilities and export potential.

The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies will:
-map out how productive capabilities have evolved over recent decades;
-identify opportunities to expand manufacturing in the future; and,
-assess the trade-offs between creating more jobs by expanding employment and creating better jobs through greater skill sets and higher wages.

The project team will publish a short book and organize a seminar involving policymakers and industry leaders to discuss the implications.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

End Date

Friday, January 15, 2016


18 months

IDRC Officer

Currie-Alder, Bruce

Total funding

CA$ 102,100


Middle East, North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, Philippines, Lebanon

Project Leader

Sami Atallah


Lebanese Center for Policy Studies L.C.P.S.

Institution Country


Institution Website