In 2020, like every other region worldwide, the Arab region has had to contend with an unexpected challenge - the COVID-19 pandemic. However, unlike most other regions, the pandemic has exacerbated numerous pre-existing crises, and its impact is likely be felt for many years to come.
Protracted conflict has reversed decades of development gains for many Arab countries, including Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in these countries has become more challenging. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development appears beyond reach for the State of Palestine, primarily owing to the Israeli occupation. The same applies to Lebanon, where a series of crises continue to hold the country far below its development potential.
While most other regions worldwide have suffered from the economic consequences of the pandemic, Arab oil-exporting countries have been gravely affected by the significant decline in oil prices in early 2020 and their continuing volatility. The pandemic has also badly impacted Arab middle-income countries (MICs) that are dependent on tourism and remittances, both of which have witnessed a devastating decline. Arab least developed countries (LDCs) have not been spared the impact of the pandemic, given their already tight fiscal space and inability to fund COVID-19 response strategies commensurate with the magnitude and impact of the pandemic.