In the first year of the pandemic, wealth concentration in the hands of a small number of elites shot up in all Arab sub-regions causing a substantial rise in wealth inequality. By contrast, the concentration of wealth worldwide grew at a subdued rate.
Over the period from 2000 to 2009, the average personal wealth of an Arab national was growing at a steady pace across all Arab sub-regions, followed by a slowdown between 2008-10 due to the global financial crisis.
But during the period 2010-20, the wealthiest one per cent of Arab nationals increased their control of regional assets from 31.4 per cent to 44.9 per cent. Along with rising wealth inequality, income poverty has increased. The two phenomena are related. Extreme income poverty was monotonically falling in the region over several decades since consistent records started in 1985. But since around 2013, it has been on the rise. On the eve of the pandemic, it reached back to 1993 levels, suggesting that two decades of pro-poor development had been reversed over the span of only five or so years, mainly due to the impact of conflicts.