Libya: Development Prospects and Challenges

The Maghreb Center, the World Bank Public Information Center (InfoShop), and the World Bank’s Maghreb Department, Middle East and North Africa Vice Presidency announce a special presentation on:

Libya: Development Prospects and Challenges

Monday, June 19, 2006 from 12:00 noon – 2pm
World Bank J Building – J1-050
701 18th St. NW (corner of 18th St. and Pennsylvania Ave.)
Event is followed by a light lunch reception in the InfoShop

Watch the video 

Since 2003, after the United Nations Security Council lifted sanctions against Libya and the country’s decision to voluntarily turn over all of its WMD, the pace of Libya’s return to the international stage has been fast. This has resulted in the progressive elimination of US and European sanctions, and the decision in 1999 by Libya to transform its state-based economy into one that is market-based, a decision restated in March 2004 by the Libyan General People’s Congress. Accordingly, Libya has embarked on a series of publicly announced reforms to achieve private sector led economic take-off and sustained growth, while diversifying its predominantly oil-based sources of revenue, and to sustain human development. The main obstacles to achieving these goals are linked to the nature of Libya’s political/governance system, its legal system, the size of its public sector, and its deficient banking system. The purpose of this panel is to present and discuss Libya’s political and legal systems, to assess the state of its economy, and the development strategies that Libya may adopt going forward.

Chaired by

Nejib Ayachi
Founder and President of the Maghreb Center


Stephen J. King
Co-founder and Vice-president of the Maghreb Center

Presented by

Michele Dunne
Editor, Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Ms. Dunne will introduce the Libyan political system, the role of key interest groups and their position/approach vis-a-vis reform, and will touch on recent political developments in Libya.

Michele Dunne is an expert on Arab affairs and visiting assistant professor of Arabic at Georgetown University. Formerly a specialist at the State Department and White House on Middle East affairs, Ms. Dunne’s research interests include political and other public discourse in the Arab world, trends regarding political, economic, and social reform in the region, and U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward the Middle East and the Muslim world. Ms. Dunne recently wrote, “Integrating Democracy Promotion into U.S. Middle East Policy,” a Carnegie Endowment paper, and “Libya: Security is Not Enough,” a Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief, both in October 2004.

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Reema I. Ali
Managing Partner of the Law Firm Ali & Partners

Ms. Ali will analyze the legal system in relation to the political system and to economic activities.

Reema I. Ali manages the law firm’s Ali & Partners international practice, a Middle Eastern law firm with offices in Washington DC and affiliate offices across the Middle East, which she formed in 1991. Having practiced law for over 21 years in the Middle East, working with major US, European and Japanese companies, has allowed her to be involved in a wide spectrum of international business and commercial transactions, and to develop firsthand understanding of the legal systems of the region. Ms. Ali has authored numerous articles on various issues of Middle Eastern Laws.

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Mohamad Elhage
Deputy Division Chief, Middle East and Central Asia region, IMF

Mr. Elhage will outline the role of the IMF in reforming the Libyan economy.

Mohamad Elhage is currently Deputy Chief of the Division that covers the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia Department of the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Elhage covers GCC related issues and currently leads missions to Libya and the United Arab Emirates. In the mid-1990s, Mr. Elhage worked on and participated in missions to a number of Arab countries. During his tenure at the IMF, Mr. Elhage has also worked in the Executive Director’s Office representing the Arab countries. He worked at the IMF Institute for about three years where he lectured on the economies of the Arab countries. Prior to joining the IMF, Mr. Elhage worked as an economist at the United States Department of Commerce. Mr. Elhage has contributed to articles and publications on the economies of the Middle East, in particular, Syria, Libya, and United Arab Emirates.

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Aristomene Varoudakis
Lead Economist, ECA region, World Bank

Mr. Varoudakis will introduce recent economic performance and level of development, analyze the challenges faced by Libya in its transition to a market economy, and present the key preconditions for non oil growth.

Aristomene Varoudakis is currently a Lead economist for Turkey in 
the World Bank ECA region, he has also been a Lead economist for Maghreb countries in the MENA region. Prior to joining the World Bank, he has been an economist in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and a Professor of Economics at the University of Strasbourg, France. Mr. Varoudakis is the principal author of several World Bank and OECD studies, and the author of two books on Macroeconomic policy and Financial Development and Growth, and several articles in professional journals.

Comments by

Tarek M. Yousef
Professor, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University

Tarik M. Yousef joined Georgetown University in 1999 as Assistant
Professor of Economics in the School of Foreign Service and Shaykh Al-Sabah Chair in Arab Studies at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Prior to that, Mr. Yousef worked as an economist in the African and Middle Eastern departments of the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Yousef specializes in development economics and economic history with a particular focus on the Middle East. His current research interests include the economic impact of demographic transitions, the evolution of labor markets in developing countries, the political economy of policy reform, and the economic history of Egypt. In addition to his academic work, Mr. Yousef is a consultant on Middle Eastern economic affairs for government institutions and international organizations.

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