nep-ara New Economics Papers
on Arab World
Issue of 2011‒04‒30
five papers chosen by
Quentin Wodon
World Bank

  1. Principals of the Islamic finance:A focus on project finance By Elasrag, hussein
  2. Economic freedom in Muslim countries : an explanation using the theory of institutional path dependency By François Facchini
  3. Knowledge-based Economic Development as a Unifying Vision in a Post-awakening Arab World By Schwalje, Wes
  4. The effects of Economy, Values and Health on Happiness In Iran: the case of the Kish Island By Torshizian, Eilya; Mehrara, Mohsen
  5. Petroleum subsidies in Yemen: Leveraging reform for development By Breisinger, Clemens; Engelke, Wilfried; Ecker, Olivier

  1. By: Elasrag, hussein
    Abstract: Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing segments of global financial industry. In some countries, it has become systemically important and, in many others, it is too big to be ignored.Islamic finance is based on shariah, an Arabic term that often is translated to “Islamic law.”Shariah provides guidelines for aspects of Muslim life, including religion, politics, economics,banking, business, and law.The basic sources of Shari’ah are the Qur’an and the Sunna, which are followed by the consensus of the jurists and interpreters of Islamic law. The central feature of the Islamic finance system is the prohibition in the Qur’an of the payment and receipt of interest (or riba). Islamic finance is a rapidly growing industry. While it represents a small proportion of the global finance market (estimated at 1%-5% of global share), the Islamic finance industry has experienced double-digit rates of growth annually in recent years (estimated at 10%- 20% annual growth). Industry experts estimate that assets held under Islamic finance management doubled between 2007 and 2010 to reach around $1 trillion. This paper tries to note the main Principal of Islamic finance. In addition to discuss the Improvement can be made in several areas to promote and enhance the providing Islamic financial services.
    JEL: G2 O16 G21
    Date: 2011–04–09
  2. By: François Facchini (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I)
    Abstract: This article explains the level of economic freedom in Muslim countries through the theory of institutional path dependency. Islamic countries are generally not free and they have a poor record regarding property rights. To explain these realities we use the institutional history of Muslim countries. We define three steps : the Arab and Ottoman Empires when Islamic law was of great importance, European colonisation, and the contemporary era with its movement towards a revival of Islam. Islamic law is not liberal. This explains why, in general, Muslin countries are generally not free. Colonisation radically changed institutional life in the twentieth century. British colonisation proved to be better than did French or Soviet colonisation. This explains why the Persian Gulf countries are freer. The collapse of the Soviet model explains the speed of liberalisation in former socialist countries (such as Albania, Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan). Nevertheless, the twentieth century was not just the century of Westernisation. It was also the century of the revival of Islam. The article concludes that the history of the twentieth century does not explain the way in which Muslim countries are attracted by the ideal of the Muslim city. The revival of Islamic intellectual innovations and the evolution of Muslim opinion sustain this thesis. Therefore, there is a dependency on the past and on an imagined future. Islam acts, like yesterday, on the world of institutional possibilities.
    Keywords: Economic freedom, colonisation, institutional imaginary, Islam, property rights.
    Date: 2011–03
  3. By: Schwalje, Wes
    Abstract: This article traces the evolution of knowledge-based economic development in the Arab World. In pursuing this objective, many countries in the region have made large state-driven human capital investments with the goals of job creation, economic integration, economic diversification, environmental sustainability, and social development. An assessment of the effectiveness of Arab investments in human capital shows marginal progress towards knowledge-based development over the last decade. A disconnect between the skills developed in Arab skills formation systems and those required by private sector employers relegates Arab businesses to contesting lower-skilled, non-knowledge intensive industries which has stalled knowledge-based development in the region.
    Keywords: Arab World; Middle East; skills formation; knowledge economy; competitiveness; skills development policy; economic development
    JEL: J40 J41 J24
    Date: 2011–04–14
  4. By: Torshizian, Eilya; Mehrara, Mohsen
    Abstract: Increasing happiness of population as the ultimate goal has engaged economist’s interest in identifying, measuring and theorizing based on the amount of influence of effective components on happiness. What makes this paper remarkable in contrast to similar studies is its Islamic ideological structure of society and being a free economic zone. Method used to estimating happiness is Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with latent variables. Results do not confirm presence of the Easterlin paradox in this society and moreover the religious variables are not significant.
    Keywords: Behavioral Economics; Economics of Happiness; Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with latent variables; Subjective Well-Being
    JEL: Z10 C30 D60
    Date: 2011–03–15
  5. By: Breisinger, Clemens; Engelke, Wilfried; Ecker, Olivier
    Abstract: Petroleum subsidy reform is increasingly seen as an opportunity for consolidating public finances and fostering sustainable economic development. Yemen, as the country with the lowest per capita income in the group of countries with a high level of energy subsidies, started to reduce subsidies in 2010 and is discussing further options for reform. The results of this paper support a comprehensive petroleum subsidy reform in Yemen. Economic growth is projected to accelerate between 0.1 and 0.8 percentage points annually as a result of reform. Yet, the design of the reform is critically important, especially for the poor. Outcomes of alternative reform scenarios range from an increase in poverty of 2 to 6 percentage points. A promising strategy combines subsidy reduction with direct transfers of 13,800 to 19,700 Yemeni rials annually to the poorest 30 percent of households and enhanced public investments. Investments should focus on the utilities, transport, trade, and construction sectors to integrate economic spaces and create the platform for a restructuring of agricultural, industrial, and service value chains, which should encourage private sector led and job creating growth in the medium term.
    Keywords: Development strategies, Growth, petroleum subsidy, Poverty, Reform,
    Date: 2011

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