The College of Public Policy (CPP), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), in collaboration with Brookings Doha Center (BDC), hosted an e-workshop on “Governance in the MENA Region: What Can We Learn from Responses to COVID19?” The e-workshop addressed the institutional and governance challenges facing countries of the MENA region that have been exacerbated and exposed as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The online sessions sought to tackle topics related to MENA pandemic responses, insights into governance challenges gained as a result of the pandemic, and future pathways to ensure a just and well-governed post-pandemic world. Among the areas of discussion was an examination of gaps in public service delivery as well as deficits in governance, which include the rule of law, quality of regulation accountability, or citizen participation.
Participants included a wide variety of academic scholars and policy experts including UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), the World Bank, the Arab Barometer, Harvard University, University of Waterloo, University of Administrative Sciences Speyer, CPP and BDC.
Speaking about the webinar’s outcomes, Dr. Leslie A. Pal, Founding Dean of CPP, said: “It has been a pleasure to partner with BDC to host this pertinent webinar, which was highly informative with excellent contributions from participants. This online conversation provided an opportunity to examine challenges and reactions in the MENA region to the pandemic and take stock of the lessons learned. These lessons will undoubtedly help us understand how to improve public service delivery in the future.”
At the conclusion of the webinar, Dr. Tarik Yousef, Director of the BDC, said: “It has been a privilege to co-host this timely workshop with our colleagues at HBKU’s College of Public Policy. The event has brought together leading experts involved in studying institutional responses to the pandemic across the region. The insights that have been shared will help improve the policy relevance of this work and, we hope, will lead to better policy outcomes. We look forward to co-organizing future events with our colleagues at CPP that can take the discussion forward.”
Dr. Anis Ben Brik, Associate Professor at CPP and co-chair of the event, said: “Such discussions are invaluable given the perilous state of the world today, and the MENA region is not exempt. The better informed we are, the better the chance of solving the problems this unprecedented crisis has presented. Cooperation between nations in the MENA region would go a long way in helping in that cause, and I look forward to more discussions on this issue of immense importance, not least what our world will and should look like once the pandemic is over.”
Dr. Nader Kabbani, Director of Research at BDC and co-chair of the event, said: “The pandemic has caught many countries off balance. For those countries that are willing to learn and grow, the pandemic has created a “stress test” that will allow them to gage the ability of their public health systems and other institutions to respond to such a crisis and to identify governance deficits that should be addressed. This is what this workshop aimed to do in the context of the MENA region. The main conclusion from this event is that there is much work to be done.”
CPP was founded in 2019 to equip students with the skillsets they need to drive changes in policymaking and governance worldwide.
The BDC is an overseas center of the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, and advances high-quality, independent research and policy analysis on the Middle East and North Africa.
As countries and cities re-open around the world, amid the hopeful signs we also hear of setbacks, spikes, and re-closings. While there is still much we do not know about COVID-19, the last six months have taught us at least five basic lessons, and one big truth.
A highly informative and wide-ranging discussion on ‘COVID-19: Faith, Public Policy and Gender Nexus’ took place via a webinar hosted by Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU).