The Arab region is comprised of 22 countries in Northern Africa, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. The region has a population of about 350 million people, more than 50% of whom are under the age of 25. With isolated exceptions, the region’s principle language is Arabic.

The region faces various socio-political, gender, economic and environmental challenges. Socially, the Arab region is facing a period of transition. The Arab Spring brought to surface the growing tension between authoritarian regimes and their citizens. Weak social, political and administrative accountability mechanisms and politically oriented socioeconomic planning models have resulted in the neglect of large parts of the population. These nations face the challenge of forming new, accountable governments that reflect popular aspirations, while also addressing the growing concerns for gender inequalities that impeded development progress.

The Arab region has growing challenges in urban areas with regards to social inclusion and urban infrastructure development. Whether through early recovery projects in Gaza, urban planning management in Saudi Arabia or solid waste management in Lebanon; UNDP has worked to build sustainable and resilient urban communities across the region.


Algeria Bahrain Djibouti Egypt Iraq Jordan kuwait Lebanon Libya Morocco Saudi Arabia Somalia Sudan Syria Tunisia UAE Yemen Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People

Facts and Figures

7.4% proportion of people living on less than $1.25
65.2% HDI
74.1% labour force participation rate
53% urban population (Source: World Bank)
82% of urban population with access to improved sanitation facilities
Source: UN Habitat

Project Spotlight

In Lebanon, ART GOLD Beirut Southern Suburbs is a collaborative project with various other national development agencies that addresses the urban challenges in Beirut’s southern suburbs. More than one third of the entire Lebanese population is estimated to live in Beirut’s southern suburbs, most of whom are poor. ART GOLD, through its strong local networks and partnerships with municipal authorities, has implemented more than 30 projects that address key sectors of the urban poor including health care, local economic development, youth empowerment, and education. Over 150,000 people have benefited from enhanced access to public health care services, some 40,000 youths have engaged in economic activity, and around 954 newly elected mayors and municipal council members have undergone training on governance issues.