Skip to main content
University of Bath

Social Mobilisation for Social Policy: Building Policy Making of State & Society in the Arab Region

Understanding social policy development. Identifying successful models of social policy and strengthening policy-making capacity in the Arab region.

The Arab uprisings of 2011 created new opportunities for citizens to claim their social rights, request social justice reform, advocate for improvements in welfare provision and hold their leaders to account. However, the translation of urgent social needs into sound social policy mechanisms in the Arab region continues to face significant challenges, including heightened security concerns and a lack of resolve among those who hold the reins of power.

In order to help address these challenges, we will undertake a two-year policy analysis programme. The programme aims to:

  • refine the understanding of social policy development in the MENA region
  • identify successful models of social policy design, formulation and implementation
  • put forward ideas to advance and strengthen the social policy-making capacity of state and non-state actors in the Arab region

Our project will focus on the following countries:

  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Qatar

In Morocco and Egypt, our research will focus on measures to develop social assistance and safety nets.

In Jordan and Lebanon, we will explore social policy challenges in relation to refugees and humanitarian needs.

In Qatar the focus will be on youth unemployment, an area of growing concern, as income from oil production threatens to decrease in the coming years.

Project objectives

  • Critically examine current policy, knowledge and practice in order to enhance capacity building through the creation of new policy spaces and social policy analysis tools
  • Enhance social policy analysis among policy-makers and practitioners
  • Agree on a common understanding of social protection that can help to inform culturally-relevant applications of social policy in MENA
  • Advance progressive social policy implementation in the MENA region through the sharing of innovative models and best practice

Project activities

  • Conduct a full scale review and analysis of social policy in the Arab region to identify successful models and best practice for improving social welfare outcomes in the 6 countries studied
  • Organise a week long residential at the University of Bath for a group of interdisciplinary social and public policy scholars from Arabic Universities within the first year of the project
  • Organise a two day Policy Lab event bringing together the research team, academics, policy makers as well as civil society and community leaders in Year 2 of the project
  • Expand the MENA Social Policy Network website in order to create multiple pathways for the dissemination of best practice and successful models of social policy in the MENA region
  • Disseminate key findings of the project at regular milestones through social media and the MENA social policy network, including a presentation of the policy-focused journal paper at a number of International conferences
  • Organise the 4th MENA Social Policy Network Conference, bringing together the research team, academics and policy makers in Year 2 of the project
  • Update the MENA Social Policy Expert database in collaboration with UNICEF MENA regional office (Jordan) and the Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI) at the University of Bath by conducting a second wave of the survey and creating a new searchable interface for database on the MENASP website.

Intended outputs and impacts

  • Five Policy Innovation Case Studies (PICS) demonstrating examples of successful policy implementation across the region
  • 2 day policy lab in Cairo
  • 2 day Conference in Cairo
  • Journal paper based on policy briefs to be submitted to a high ranking international social policy journal
  • Opinion editorial article and article in Beirut Today
  • Podcasts recorded with experts participating in the Policy Lab
  • Agenda plan following the Policy Lab for further action to enhance social policy making capacity in the MENA region
  • A plan of action following the residential at the University of Bath will set out plans for further research collaborations and recommendations for training and capacity building aimed at enhancing the social policy practice of policy-makers and civil society groups in the case study countries
  • A large scale research grant proposal developed (and submitted towards the end of the project), building on the findings of this project

Project team


This project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, in conjunction with the Friends of the British Council.