The World Bank is hoping to spur up to $100 billion to close the “infrastructure gap” in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by partnering with the Islamic Development Bank for projects that abide by Islamic Shariah law.
While the region has experienced rapid growth in recent years, another
75-100 billion dollars is required to continue the trajectory and
maintain international competitiveness. One means of continuing the
private investment flow, the World Bank argues, is to help foster
public-private partnerships. Another approach suggested by the
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private arm of the World
Bank, is to attract investors from the Gulf region by setting projects
that are “Shariah-compliant,” meaning they comply with the holy code
that governs everything from crime to hygiene. While the Gulf has
sustained its own oil-fueled investments, the rest of the Middle East
has been largely left out and the collaboration of the World Bank and
the Islamic Development Bank is meant to change that.
“This regional initiative will unlock new flows of private sector
investment to help countries like Egypt, Morocco, Jordan or Tunisia
eager to push ahead with critical infrastructure projects that will
drive competitiveness and boost much needed job creation,” said World
Bank President, Robert B. Zoellick, in a press release.
“In particular, IFC supports cross-border projects from Gulf countries into emerging markets that commercial banks would consider too risky without IFC’s involvement. Over the past four years, IFC has invested more than $1 billion in infrastructure projects in MENA,” according to the press release.
The World Bank is expected to continue and scale up its investments in areas as diverse as electricity, transport and water.