Economies of the MENA region have been struggling significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and post-Ukraine instability of the global markets. One of the main challenges these countries have been facing has been that of attracting more and better FDI, a problem compounded by investment climate weaknesses and domestic political turmoil. But how do major financial actors look at the region today? Despite the disengagement discourse, the US seem to be holding on to its historical role in the MENA region by strengthening old and new partnerships, especially through robust development financing. China’s investments in major infrastructural plans (especially in the Maghreb), coupled with the creation of technological dependencies, are a sign of the region’s growing importance for Beijing. Major investments in technology and infrastructure as well as support for debt financing and financial technical assistance demonstrate the region’s status as a front line in the competition between international powers.
Who are the main actors driving investments and international development finance in the MENA region today, and what their interests? What are the different development finance strategies being deployed by various great powers competing for regional influence? How does Europe, the region’s immediate neighbour and historical partner, feature in this picture?