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Many countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remain stuck in the transition from an administered to a market economy. While some have made more progress than others, all continue to face a wide range of economic and political challenges.

The main economic obstacles fall into two general categories: opaque ownership structures and firms’ inability to enter or exit markets easily. Politically, the fact that most MENA countries are autocracies — the region is one of the last on Earth with absolute monarchies and military rule — is the principal barrier to economic change.

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