Changes abound in the Middle East and North Africa, but the pace of economic and social reforms needs to increase, according to one senior voice at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Global growth will be 3.6 percent for the fiscal year of 2017, with this falling to 2.6 percent for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) region, according to the IMF's 2017 Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia report out Tuesday.
Jihad Azour, the IMF's director for its Middle East and Central Asia department, told CNBC: "Reforms are now accepted by all as a positive move toward creating additional growth." But he added, "If we don't grow at 6 and 7 percent it's going to be very difficult to find enough jobs for the 25 million young men and women that will enter the labor market in the region in the next five years."
Azour discussed Saudi Arabia's impetus to "genuinely move into a private sector-led economy." For him, the Kingdom needs to improve "access to finance, by reforming the financial sector; access to talent, by reforming education; (and) access to market by opening up the economy and improving the business environment."
"Sequencing and keeping the momentum is important" in achieving this, he added.