Press release

30 Dec 2022

ESCWA in its annual Survey of the Arab region: one third of its population living below lines despite positive growth

Survey of economic and social developments in the Arab region

Beirut, 30 December 2022--According to the latest version of the “Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the Arab Region”, released today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the region’s economy is expected to grow by 4.5% in 2023 and 3.4% in 2024, despite the disruption of the global economy’s recovery from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic by the war in Ukraine.

According to the Survey, inflation rates increased to 14% in 2022, but will likely drop to 8 and 4.5% in the next two years, respectively. Poverty, measured against national poverty lines, also increased to affect 130 million people in Arab countries, i.e., more than one third of the region’s population excluding Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Libya. The Survey expects a further rise in poverty levels in the next two years, reaching 36% of the population in 2024.

Moreover, the Arab region registered the world’s highest unemployment rate in 2022, at 12%. There may be a very slight decrease in 2023 to 11.7%, owing to post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.

According to Ahmed Moummi, Lead Author of the Survey, despite the region’s positive growth outlook, there are significant discrepancies among countries, which were exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Indeed, the repercussions of that war are not the same for all Arab countries: Gulf Cooperation Council countries and other oil-exporting ones will continue to benefit from higher energy prices, while oil-importing countries will suffer from several socioeconomic challenges, including rising energy costs, food supply shortages, and drops in both tourism and international aid inflows.

“The current situation presents an opportunity for oil-exporting Arab countries to diversify their economies away from the energy sector by accumulating reserves and investing in projects that generate inclusive growth and sustainable development,” underlined Moummi.

Through its annual Survey, ESCWA provides an analysis of the latest social and economic trends in the region, to support member States' efforts in developing and implementing evidence-based policies, and improving economic planning processes to achieve sustainable and inclusive development.




One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States, and works on enhancing regional integration.


For more information:

- Ms. Maryam Sleiman, Public Information Assistant, +961-81-769-888; email:

- Ms. Rania Harb, Public Information Assistant, +961-70-008-879; email:


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