UN-Habitat supports Arab countries in their efforts to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace. UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States provides knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action for eighteen countries across the Arab region and is currently present in thirteen Arab countries, supporting partners through a diversified portfolio of more than USD 290 million, centering around the four main pillars of action of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Learn more about our work in the region

Total value of projects
US$ 347,743,330
No. of projects (2014 - 2019)
Total: 164
  • Many Arab countries face conflict and protracted crisis with major IDP and refugee influx to cities. Conflict also resulted in major destruction of shelter and basic infrastructure and services; as well as breakdown of local governance systems.
  • Urban Economic performance: the limited diversification of local Arab economies; shortage of job opportunities, especially for youth; scarcity of small-scale credits and lack of affordable housing; accompanied with a growth in the informal economic sector, and rapid expansion of informal spatial development.
  • Weak land and urban planning resulting in non-regulated urban expansion using outdated and poorly regulated planning approaches causing spatial segregation, and growth in informal settlements.
  • Social trends characterized by poverty, and inequality, especially in cities; coupled with marginalization of youth and women, and other social roups.
  • Climate Change impacts causing droughts, desertification, and water scarcity in some countries as well as rising sea levels in others.
Urban numbers
More than half of the Arab region population live in cities and human settlements. By 2050, over 70 per cent of the Arab population will be urban.
58% world refugees originated from the Arab region (2016) of which 60% continue to live in the region.
By 2030 the effects of climate change are expected to reduce renewable water resources by another 20 per cent through declining precipitation, rising temperature.
Baba Sheikh, Religious Leader of the Yazidi Community in Iraq

“Our hope is that all lands return to their owners, and people return to their homes and villages, we thank all organizations who supported rebuilding in Sinjar, we also thank UN-Habitat for bring us closer to our hope.”

Baba Sheikh, Religious Leader of the Yazidi Community in Iraq

Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

Applying a human rights-based approach in programming, UN-Habitat projects in the Arab region seek to fulfill the rights to adequate housing, safe water and sanitation as well as principles of equality, and non-discrimination, inclusion and participation. Through its work, UN-Habitat enhances respect to human rights in Arab cities and contributes to achieving socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements.

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UN-Habitat ensures that all its projects in the region are responsive to gender needs and the distinctive challenges Arab women experience in cities. Through engaging women at all project phases as well as empowering them through targeted projects, UN-Habitat aims to introduce transformative results contributing to gender equality in Arab cities.

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With 60% of the population in the Arab region below 30 years, youth are a great driving force for development. UN-Habitat ensures that its projects engage youth as development partners as well as address their issues and capitalize on their potential.

UN-Habitat’s projects strive to leave no one behind through collecting age disaggregated data, measuring the impact of different interventions on all age groups and engaging children, youth and the elderly in planning of all projects.

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UN-Habitat ensures that all its projects contribute to advancing accessible and inclusive urban development in the Arab region. Adopting a holistic and people-centered approach, UN-Habitat strives to make urban development inclusive of and accessible to the persons with disabilities, taking into consideration the needs and concerns of all people, and engaging all members of society, to ensure accessibility of housing and services.

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Donors and partners

UN-Habitat relies on partnerships to develop and implement work at the regional, national and local levels. The League of Arab States is the main regional partner for UN-Habitat in the region where our collaboration on the Arab Strategy for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development 2030 guides urban development in the region. UN-Habitat leads an extensive network of partnerships with regional UN agencies, IGOs and NGOs to ensure complementarity and synergy in the field of sustainable urban development. It also reaches out to a diversified network of global and regional donors to increase resource mobilization at the regional and country levels. In addition, strong country presence in the region ensures that we collaborate with national and local authorities to advance sustainable urban development at the Arab region.


Erfan Ali
Director of the Regional office for Arab States

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