From black hole to spring: the coming of age of social policy in the Arab countries?

Rana Jawad

in Social Policy Review 24

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9781447304470
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307662 | DOI:
From black hole to spring: the coming of age of social policy in the Arab countries?

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The chapter gives an overview of the mechanics and dynamics of the social policies and welfare regimes of the region of the Middle East with a particular focus on the Arab countries. It characterises these countries as having a mixture of corporatist and residual welfare policies which emphasise contribution-based social insurance and one-off social assistance. Although the oil producing economies in the region have a high degree of dependence on oil revenues to fund social and welfare services, other sources of funding stemming from religious welfare institutions and practices such as the zakat (obligatory tax on assets) and waqf (religious endowments) also play a major role in helping people in need. Support provided by next of kin or charitable non-governmental and para-state organisations also play a key role in welfare provision. Social policies in Arab countries do not convey a strong sense of citizenship or social rights and the Arab spring is unlikely to bring about dramatic changes to welfare provision in the near future thought it has undoubtedly raised the importance of issues of social justice further.

Keywords: Middle East; Welfare regimes; Arab countries; Religious welfare; Arab spring

Chapter.  6668 words. 

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