From a public health standpoint, countries in the Middle East appear to have – at least for now – avoided the worst of the Covid-19 crisis. Apart from Iran, which has suffered some 5,000 fatalities, precautionary measures have seen the Mena countries avoid outbreaks on par with western Europe and the United States.
The economic consequences for the region, however, look dire – for oil exporting and importing countries alike. In its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO), released 14 April, the IMF predicts Mena economies as a whole will contract by 3.3% for 2020, an even worse performance than the global -3% figure, though somewhat less disastrous than the -5.8% and -7.8% projections for the US and EU respectively (MEES, 17 April). The IMF projects a rebound in Mena growth to 4% for 2021, though needless to say this is subject to a massive degree of uncertainty. (CONTINUED - 1024 WORDS)