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12 May 2023
10:00-11:30 CET

Addressing Social Protection in the MENA Region: Insights from Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt

In the MENA region, social contracts have traditionally been built around governments addressing political and economic crises through the dual levers of subsidies and public sector employment.

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A man carries bread loves, called ‘aish in Egyptian, along a busy Cairo street near a campaign banner for President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, by Amr Abdallah Dash for Reuters.

Social contracts in the Arab world have historically revolved around a model where governments use subsidies and public sector employment to address political, economic, and social challenges. Amid economic vulnerabilities and shifting political and economic regional dynamics, these policies have created market distortions, enhanced dependencies and often failed at efforts to reduce income inequalities.

  • What are the key findings of two years of research on social protection systems in Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt?
  • How are regional governments progressing in addressing income inequalities and economic reform in this arena?
  • What are the political and economic drivers and dynamics promoting or hampering social protection reform?
  • What have been the experiences and the key challenges of the researchers conducting these two-year-long studies?


  • Sanam Vakil, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
  • Adel Hamaizia, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House


  • Victor J. Willi, Vice-President Research, Middle East Institute Switzerland (MEIS)

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