About the Arab Human Development Reports

The Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR) engage institutions and citizens in Arab countries1 in analysis and discussions about factors that shape the choices and freedoms available to people across the region. The aim is to foster understanding and consensus around regional and national development priorities, as well as suggest policies, strategies and opportunities for the empowerment of disadvantaged groups. By creating a platform of engagement, the Reports target policymakers, opinion leaders and civil society organizations who are committed to sustainable human development in the region.

As instruments for measuring human progress and triggering action for change, the AHDRs feed into and draw upon the data and analysis of the global Human Development Reports. Taking the human development approach to the regional level, the AHDR promotes regional partnerships for influencing change and region-specific approaches in the areas of sustainable development, human rights, poverty reduction, gender equality, education, economic reform, social cohesion and globalization.

Prepared and owned by Arabs as an advocacy tool designed to appeal to a wide Arab audience, the Reports have contributed to regional and global public debates and mobilized support for action and change through processes of consultation, research, and advocacy. They have helped to articulate perceptions and priorities in the region, and have served as a source of alternative policy opinions, showing that, if they prioritize policies that ensure the well-being, productivity, self-determination and good citizenship of their population, Arab countries can achieve leaps forward in development, reinforce stability, and secure sustainable gains. Finally, they have provided entry points to UNDP and the UN system to formulate initiatives in support of Arab countries in areas such as climate change, anti-corruption, youth etc.

The catalyst that inspired the onset of the series was a sense of urgency among Arab thinkers about the uncertain situation of Arab countries at the start of a new millennium. Hence, the idea to foster an Arab-owned analysis of the region, relying on Arab expertise from all over the region with adequate gender and youth representation.

The first AHDR Creating Opportunities for Future Generations published in 2002 identified three critical development deficits in the Arab world: 1) the acquisition of knowledge; 2) political freedoms; and; 3) women’s empowerment.

The subsequent issues, Building a Knowledge Society (AHDR 2003), Towards Freedom in the Arab World (AHDR 2004), Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World (AHDR 2005), have in turn studied each of the deficits in greater depth.

The following report, Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries (AHDR 2009), focused on human security, a prerequisite for human development. As the previous reports, the AHDR 2009 sheds light on the numerous development challenges that have contributed to the 2011 uprising in the region, including the role of the state in guaranteeing or undermining human security, the personal insecurity of vulnerable groups, especially in terms of economic vulnerability, poverty and unemployment, health insecurity, as well as insecurity generated through military intervention.

The latest AHDR, Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality (AHDR 2016) addresses the ambitions embedded in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development putting the youth at the forefront. It calls on Arab States to invest in their youth, and to empower them to engage in development processes.

The AHDR Research Paper Series has been introduced to allow for more in-depth and timely analysis. The most recent Research Paper, Leaving No One Behind: Towards Inclusive Citizenship in Arab Countries, was published in 2019 and delves into the challenges to achieve inclusive citizenship by analyzing five forces of exclusion: discrimination, socio-economic exclusion, geographic exclusion, unaccountable governance, and shocks and fragility.

The AHDR is also set to leverage new technologies to collect data and give voice to Arab citizens, such as satellite imagery or mobile app perception surveys.


[1] The AHDR covers the 22 member countries of the League of Arab States: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States has Country Offices in 17 of these countries (UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa has country offices in Comoros, Mauritania, while there is no UNDP country presence in Oman, Qatar and UAE).