Position Papers
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COVID-19, Trade & Transport
Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
All Countries

COVID-19: Impact on Transport in the Arab Region

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a global health and economic crisis that has transformed the world. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) expects world gross domestic product (GDP) to contract by 4.3 per cent in 2020, leaving a shortfall in global output by year’s end of over $6 trillion. Trade is expected to shrink by around one-fifth in 2020, while foreign direct investment and remittances are set to fall by up to 40 per cent and over $100 billion, respectively.1 The Arab region is not immune to the shock caused by the pandemic. In line with global trends, GDP in the Arab region is expected to decline at an annual rate of 5.7 per cent in 2020, with the entire economy for the region losing around $900 billion in output between 2020 and 2022.2 In the worst-case scenario, the region is not expected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels before 2023. The economic prospects of the region remain highly dependent on developments in the energy market, given that oil revenues accounted for nearly two thirds of the Arab region’s nominal GDP in 2019. Meanwhile, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows are expected to fall by 45 per cent in 2020, and unemployment is set to reach unprecedented levels.3 (…)


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