Knowledge, Local Development, and Urbanization in Arab Economies

Knowledge, Local Development, and Urbanization in Arab Economies

Nada Zouag (Al Akhawayn University, Morocco) and Ahmed Driouchi (Al Akhawayn University, Morocco)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5210-1.ch005
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Abstract

In the absence of local knowledge measures, this chapter looks at how local universities and research centers could explain the potential for local development in territorial communities. This chapter also assesses the links between urbanization and development. It is mainly based on the review of literature, descriptive statistics, and regression analysis using data on local development, urbanization, global knowledge measures, and human development indices. The focus here is on Arab economies. The current situation and development prospects are discussed in relation to the role of knowledge economy in local development but also in further urbanization. Smart, livable, and inclusive cities are discussed.
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Literature Review

This review focuses on the major dimensions that relate to the objectives of this chapter. These include the status of centralization and decentralization in the MENA region besides the links with local development through knowledge industries.

Tosun and Yilmaz (2010) suggest that the MENA countries are among the most centralized economies in the World. Besides that, the higher levels of urbanization in the Golf economies with a concentration in few agglomerations could impose further centralization. However, North African countries with agricultural and rural activities occupying an important share of the respective GDPs, centralization is known to be the rule even though major decentralization initiatives have been under way. Belghazi (2010) has also referred to this limited decentralization and shown that only few functions have been devoted to localities and regions. To this author, the major decisions are kept at the central level.

Bogaert (2011) has been elucidating the idea that is now being very common in the Arab countries with the dispatching of public power by the creation of relatively short lived agencies and institutions that will enhance some areas in a given country. The example of the Bouregreg Valley in Rabat-Salé, Morocco, is used to show how there is a need to first give exclusive power to the public sector (Ministry of Interior and a local community) over the territory of a mega urban project including real estate and commercial areas. This led to the creation of an agency exclusive to this project with authority over the land and its construction. Bogaert’s paper (2011) shows how this causes the project to smoothen the investor-project relationship, and allows a faster breakdown and dispatching of roles for the different private investors. This has reduced the roles of local institutions related to the urban areas concerned to avoid conflicts and smoothen the realization of the project.

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