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Foreign Aid in the Middle East and North Africa

Shifting Patterns in International Cooperation

The Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) co-organized an international conference in order to map the new trends, patterns and priorities of foreign aid assistance as well as their objectives and impacts for the regional development of the MENA.

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The domain of foreign aid assistance has experienced a new surge and dynamism in recent years that is particularly visible in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The MENA region is among the largest recipients of foreign aid worldwide with a variety of protracted development deficits. The region is on many levels of major strategic importance, due to its geopolitical relevance and friction, wealth of natural resources as well as central location at the crossroads of global trade.

It is to no surprise that the European Union and its Member States continue to remain among the largest foreign aid donors for its direct neighborhood in the south. The U.S. has been in the process of reevaluating and reshuffling its priorities and resources in its foreign aid assistance towards the MENA. New actors have been entering the stage of development cooperation with immense financial means and new understandings of foreign aid assistance, most notably the Gulf Arab States. China, on the other side, has introduced with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) a new type of “development” project. With this plethora of stakes involved, it is no secret that foreign aid comes with political strings and strategic goals attached.

A report highlighting the main developments in international cooperation and external assistance in the MENA region will soon follow the international conference.



Opening Speech: Chances and Challenges for Development in the Mediterranean

H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President Emeritus of the Republic of Malta


Panel 1: Europe and the Conditionality

What is the EU’s approach to MENA regional development and how does it compare to European Member States’ efforts? How could the European tools and instruments be brought in line with the expectations and priorities of the partner countries?


Panel 2: U.S. Foreign Aid in the MENA

What are the priorities of U.S. Foreign Aid and how have they changed in recent times? What are the consequences of shifting U.S. development objectives for peace and security in the MENA?


Panel 3: China – Investing instead of Pledging?

What are the novelties of China’s development approach? How does the Belt and Road Initiative link into MENA regional development? How feasible and sustainable is the projection of the Chinese strategy for the MENA?


Panel 4: The New Politics of Gulf Arab States – Foreign Aid and Investment

What is the modus-operandi and rationale behind Gulf foreign aid assistance in the MENA? What are the implications of the Gulf soft and hard power development tools for the region?


Panel 5: Multinational Donors – Funding the Status Quo?

What are the objectives and motivations of the Multinational Donor Community? How do Multinational Donors oversee and coordinate foreign aid assistance in the MENA region?


Roundtable: Foreign Aid –New Game, New Rules?

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