ERF is currently engaged in carrying out a number of programs that address questions where knowledge gaps about the Arab countries, Iran and Turkey are apparent.
Since political upheaval rocked the Arab World in the context of the Arab Spring, several countries have been facing daunting challenges. These include a difficult democratization process, deteriorating social and economic conditions and, in many cases, limited knowledge about the best policy options to meet rising aspirations for greater and shared prosperity. These challenges have been compounded by various factors including the lack of research on topical issues and the scarcity of micro data. To help overcome these challenges, ERF launched the “Arab Spring Development Initiative” (ASDI), a three-year research program supported by the World Bank and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.
ASDI focuses on three main areas of activity namely: (i) open access data, (ii) knowledge creation, and (iii) policy dialogues.
Open Access Data: This new platform follows in the footsteps of the successful World Bank initiative on making data available to researchers and policymakers alike. ERF will capitalize on its knowledge of the region to focus on the Arab countries, where micro data is generally neither available nor accessible. This is a huge undertaking that responds directly to the Arab Spring demand for more transparency and accountability.
Knowledge Creation: Emphasis in this area will be on four themes that are of critical importance to the region at this juncture in its development. These are: The Economics and Politics of Arab Awakening Inequality, Employment, and Natural Resources and Economic Diversification.
Policy Dialogues: Under this activity, a variety of platforms for policy discussions will be created, covering varying topics and stakeholders as well as tools and formats to maximize impact. In particular, ERF seeks to broaden its channels of communication and expand the use of social media tools, which have proven instrumental in the buildup to the Arab Spring and during the transitions. A set of activities will be initiated such as: national dialogues, development debates and policy briefs, with the aim of informing the policy debate on issues of regional interest.