An Expert Group Meeting on "Economic Policy Analysis and Forecasting: External Peer Review of the Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the UN-ESCWA Region" was held by UN-ESCWA in Damascus late last January. The main objective of the meeting was to discuss the theme proposed for the upcoming edition of the Survey, which is "lessons learned from dealing with the previous oil boom"; and to make use of expert views and ideas on ways to improve the quality of the Survey. It also aimed to brainstorm ideas on contemporary economic, social and political economy issues in the Arab region; evaluate the Survey in terms of its analytical rigor, coverage of subject matter and overall quality; and elicit policy recommendations for the UN-ESCWA region.
Several recommendations were made in order to further develop the main theme of the Survey and deepen its analysis. The recommendations stressed on the achievement of growth with equity despite the challenges facing this growth within the trend of economic transformation and liberalization in the economies of the region. They also called for highlighting structural differences in the UN-ESCWA region that need to be looked at when comparing the first oil boom to the second; and delving more deeply into the political economy perspective of oil that is breeding rentierism and consumerism in the UN-ESCWA region.