Message From The Director


It is my pleasure to present to you the 2020 education and training program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF). The coming year will see intensified work in several areas to help policymakers in the Arab world develop sound economic policies and longer-term strategies. Many of the economic trends witnessed in recent years are likely to persist or worsen due to conflict-related tensions and less favorable global economic conditions, including more volatile oil prices, reduced external trade and investment flows, precarious fiscal balances, and continued pressures from internal dislocation and migration. The selection of CEF activities for 2020 takes on board the countries’ evolving policy needs and integrates case studies and applications best suited to help public sector officials develop appropriate policy responses.

The CEF will continue to expand its agenda through an inter-regional approach, with a view to incorporating into courses practical lessons from economies with features similar to those in the Arab world, including post-conflict, fragile and resource-rich countries. The work program will be further enriched through the center’s inter-disciplinary collaboration that draws on the expertise and experience of our partner organizations, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank Group, and World Trade Organization. It will build upon the positive feedback from participants in courses that complement the economics training provided by the IMF, such as those in the areas of health, education and technological innovation. An over-arching theme will be inclusive development for better governance. It will include special attention to the design and implementation of policies that raise longer-term growth while enhancing public sector transparency and accountability, with applications of lessons from other regions’ experiences to Arab countries’ special conditions.

The contribution of good governance to inclusive development will also be a key topic in the high-level forums that the center will lead jointly with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, as well as in our engagement with the Kuwaiti community and civil society. The upcoming symposiums will build upon the outcome of the events held in 2019 which brought to the fore the key role of public sector reform and higher data quality for effective policy making, and ways in which the IMF and country authorities can work together to strengthen economic governance. That theme will also be integrated in several of the CEF courses and forums offered in 2020 and beyond, as well as workshops such as on strengthening public and private partnership in the fight against corruption. The CEF’s outreach will continue to expand through our online courses, including the course on Financial Programming and Policies, as well as the online course on Energy Subsidy Reform in Arabic which will become open to the wider public.

My CEF colleagues and I look forward to your visit and participation in our events. We would also welcome your feedback through our website at, which includes our newsletters and updates on our activities, and through Instagram @imfcef or by email at .

Oussama Kanaan

Director, IMF-Middle East Center for Economics and Finance

Oussama Kanaan assumed his responsibilities in Kuwait in December 2014 as the Director of the IMF-Middle East Center for Economics and Finance. His previous responsibilities in the region have included the positions of IMF Mission Chief or Resident Representative for several Arab countries. He worked on a range of world regions and departments at the IMF, including the Policy Development and Review, Fiscal Affairs, and African departments. He also served as the Alternate Executive Director at the IMF for the Chair representing countries in the region. He has published in the areas of economic growth, trade and development, and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.