Deep Dive: Middle East and North Africa
Stable outlook for the GCC sovereigns, underpinned by higher oil prices and output, contrasts with weak recovery prospects and growing social tensions in the rest of the MENA region
GCC government finances and growth will strengthen with supportive oil prices and a rebound in hydrocarbon production, although balance sheets will remain weaker than pre-pandemic for most sovereigns. Higher hydrocarbon revenue will also provide greater financial capacity to support diversification efforts and widens the window for structural fiscal reforms.
Regional geopolitical tensions will remain the key tail risk for the region. In contrast, economic recovery will be subdued across the rest of the Middle East, given the limited scope for fiscal policy to support growth, slow resumption of tourism and lingering pandemic risks as vaccine access remains limited and uneven. Weak growth will exacerbate social risks and weigh on debt dynamics.
In some cases, progress on economic reform will remain a hostage of domestic political divisions and growing social discontent, exacerbating government liquidity and external pressures. Debt overhang will leave the Levant and North Africa region vulnerable to future shocks.
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