SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Economic, business and institutional environment of the Middle East and North Africa

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Term 1

The course aims to describe, explain and analyse the changing macroeconomic and institutional environments in MENA and analyse their implications on investment and doing business in the MENA region. One main objective is to evaluate the main institutional obstacles to domestic or foreign private sector participation in economic activity in the region. Another objective is to explain the investment liberalisation process and analyse the main impediments to foreign investment in MENA and the various ways in which foreign companies manage or mitigate these risks. The course examines financial reform, assesses the performance of the banking system and examines the development of capital markets in MENA, including the role of Islamic banking. The course also examines the state-business relationship and recent efforts to privatise state-owned enterprises. The course is designed to be accessible both to those with little prior knowledge of management issues and/or knowledge of the business environment in the MNA. The academic elements of the course will be reinforced by contributions to from practitioners to the internal management programme’s seminar series and invited lecturers.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • To define the region and analyze the main axes of differentiation within the region
  • To describe and analyze the main socio-economic features of MENA
  • To describe, analyze and identify the main elements in the macroeconomic environment affecting firms' operations and investment decisions
  • To assess the institutional environment in which firms operate and the main institutional obstacles facing private businesses
  • To analyze the business-state relationship and their implication on doing business
  • To analyze privatization process and the expanding role of the private sector
  • To assess foreign investment policy and analyze the main impediments to FDI including political risk
  • To understand the main features of the labor  markets and evaluate labor and migration policies in the Gulf and their implication for development of human resources

Method of assessment

Assessment for this course is by one tutorial presentation at 10%; an essay of 4,000 words at 30%; an unseen written examination at 60% of the total grade; all elements except the presentation may be resubmitted

Suggested reading

There is no single textbook that covers all the course topics in the MENA context. A detailed reading list containing the main and supplementary readings will be distributed at the beginning of the course. The course will also rely heavily on case studies. The readings and necessary materials for these case studies will be distributed in the class at the end of each lecture.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules