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

Urban numbers

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.


  • 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  • Weak land and urban planning resulting in non-regulated urban expansion using outdated and poorly regulated planning approaches causing spatial segregation, and growth in informal settlements.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.

“This was our land, it has always belonged to us, we built our houses on it. UN-Habitat has provided us with occupancy certificates confirming that we are the residents and the ones living here. This is something we didn’t have for 40 years!”

Qunaf Qasim, Yazidi Returnee

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