The World Bank and Islamic Development Bank are exploring a possible development partnership that would benefit the Middle East and North Africa.
During a meeting at IsDB office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, IsDB President Ahmad Mohamed Ali and World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Shamshad Akhtar shared ideas on combating poverty, achieving food security and strengthening infrastructure in the region.
Ali sought World Bank's support for development projects in the Palestinian territories as well as Iraq and Somalia.
IsDB works in 56 countries – all of which are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference – and provides support for economic development. Its partner organizations include the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, Islamic Research and Training Institute, and Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment & Export Credit.
IsDB focuses on infrastructure and agriculture, with projects including roads, canals, dams, schools, hospitals, housing and rural development in the public and private sectors.
Akhtar and IsDB Vice President Mirama Boubacar Sidibe expressed great interest in working cooperatively on economic stability in Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Sidibe believed the World Bank could learn a great deal from the Islamic Development Bank's experience both in Islamic finance and financing infrastructure with Islamic products in member states such as Saudi Arabia.
The World Bank has many projects in the region, which also support infrastructure and small-business lending. In fiscal year 2008, the agency delivered 44 economic and sector work activities and 85 nonlending technical assistance activities. Among World Bank/MENA's development activities are employment programming for at-risk youth, water, electricity and road development schemes, and financial support to small and medium-sized businesses.
Ali welcomed the collaboration between the two institutions. He promised that IsDB would do all in its power to bring about such cooperation.