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Press Release -- Middle East and North Africa

In Washington, D.C.:
Nadine Ghannam
Phone: +1 (202) 473-3011
E-mail: nsghannam@ifc.org

Economies in Middle East and North Africa Reform Business Regulation to Boost Entrepreneurs

Washington D.C., October 20, 2011— A new IFC and World Bank report finds that 11 out of 18 economies in the Middle East and North Africa improved business regulations for entrepreneurs in the past year, moving forward despite political and economic uncertainty in the region.

Released today, Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World assesses regulations affecting domestic firms in 183 economies. The report ranks the economies in 10 areas of business regulation, such as starting a business, resolving insolvency, and enforcing contracts. The study’s methodology expanded this year to include indicators on getting electricity connections.

Morocco improved its business regulation the most compared to other global economies, climbing 21 places to 94, by simplifying the construction permitting process, easing the administrative burden of tax compliance, and providing greater protections to minority shareholders. Since 2005, Morocco has implemented 15 business regulatory reforms. 

The report finds that six of the region’s 18 business regulatory reforms measured made it easier to start a business. For example, Jordan reduced the minimum capital required to start a company, and Oman’s new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs cut business registration time from seven days to three. 

Saudi Arabia remained the regional leader with a global ease of doing business ranking of 12. Qatar implemented its first reforms since 2005 and climbed to 36 on the global scorecard by improving its credit information system. The United Arab Emirates further streamlined the requirements for business start-up, and improved its ranking to 33. 

New data show that the region can improve access to information on business regulations. “The region’s entrepreneurs can be empowered by stronger institutions and better access to information,” said Neil Gregory, Senior Manager, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group. “In more than half of the region’s economies, an entrepreneur must meet with an official to get fee schedules or documentation requirements for many business procedures. E-government initiatives, the global trend, can help relieve bureaucratic burdens on entrepreneurs by offering transparent and sustainable solutions.” 

Over the past six years 17 economies in the Middle East and North Africa have made their regulatory environment more business-friendly. “Making business regulations more efficient and accessible increases opportunities for economic growth,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group. “By helping businesses get started, the economies of the Middle East and North Africa can offer hope to entrepreneurs, who are the engine behind job creation.”

About the Doing Business report series

Doing Business analyzes regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency. The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 indicators and cover 183 economies. Previous year’s rankings are back-calculated to account for the addition of new indicator(s), data corrections, and methodology changes in existing indicators so as to provide a meaningful comparison with the new rankings. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example, it does not measure security, macroeconomic stability, corruption, the level of skills, or the strength of financial systems. Its findings have stimulated policy debates in more than 80 economies and enabled a growing body of research on how firm-level regulation relates to economic outcomes across economies. For more information about the Doing Business report series, please visit www.doingbusiness.org. Join us on Facebook.

About the World Bank Group

The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.

Regional Media Contacts:

Middle East and North Africa  
Riham Mustafa +202 (2) 4691-4230 Tina Taheri Moayed  1 (202) 473-1075 
E-mail: rmustafa@ifc.org E-mail: ttaheri@worldbank.org