Issue 3 – January 2022 – Editorial

A publication of the METO University Network

by Arwa Syed*

Happy New Year, and welcome back to the third issue of The Bright Side! Like always, we aim to bring you the most positive stories from the Middle East and North Africa region, stepping back from stories of political turmoil and social unrest in mass media and we’ll bring you even more positive developments in the region this year, from conflict resolution to food and water security, and beyond.

The past couple of weeks have seen significant progress in the region’s attempts to deal with its food and water security issues. Late November saw a breakthrough in Middle Eastern water security, with Jordan and Israel signing a water-energy deal, in which water-scarce Jordan will be provided with 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water. Since the agreement, we have seen more and more Arab states take more proactive initiatives in dealing with the issue of water and food scarcity.

Food insecurity has remained a predominant challenge for the MENA region for years. Given the region’s arid climate and being the world’s most water-stressed region, it has always struggled with its agricultural production, which is only worsening with climate change. This makes most MENA countries highly dependent on imports. As well as the climate, conflict is also a factor for the region’s food insecurity, with countries currently in conflict like Yemen facing food scarcity issues. The militarisation of borders in the case of Yemen and its subsequent blockade has contributed to the country’s famine, with over half its population being food insecure and in desperate need of food aid. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the region’s existing food insecurity and prompted Arab states to take steps in battling the issue of food scarcity.

Various MENA states like Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have taken steps to advance their agriculture sector and combat food scarcity and thus accelerate improvement in food security. Dubbed as the ‘agricultural revolution’, these states have incorporated technology into their agricultural production, allowing for greater production and a more sustainable form of agricultural practise in the region. At the forefront of the Middle East’s ‘agricultural revolution’ is the practice of vertical farming, with Saudi Arabia already having invested millions of dollars. Vertical farming will allow for a more sustainable approach, reducing costs compared to traditional agriculture and saving more water, all whilst increasing yield production all year long.

Morocco presents a remarkable case in which it has been using technological innovations to reform its agricultural production and become a food secure nation. Given that Morocco is a country that directly faces the implications of climate change, they have also been testing alternative crops suitable for its changing climate. Morocco’s adaptability to the changing circumstances and its technological innovations will allow for the guarantee of consistent domestic food supply, as well as the creation of numerous jobs.

Like food insecurity, the region also faces the issue of water scarcity. Egypt has been tackling its issue of water security in hopes of avoiding a future water crisis. Egypt is a country that suffers from a water deficit, with its citizens being urged to ration water consumption by the Egyptian government. However, to overcome this, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has recently announced a 20-year national plan that will altogether avoid future water crises amidst the country’s struggle over the Nile River. The project will seek to ration the use of water, improve Egypt’s water quality, provide additional water sources and establish a more effective form of water management, which will cost up to $100 billion.

There is no doubt that such initiatives and investments carried out by states of the region will be highly beneficial for the population and initiate a step towards a more food secure and water secure Middle East.

* Arwa Syed is a final year International Relations student studying at SOAS, University of London. At METO, she researches all latest developments in food and water security in the MENA region, as well as work within our fundraising team

Our Team

This bulletin is bought to you by the following members of the METO University Network:

Giada del Russo (Coordinator & Environment)
Soukaina El anaoui (Women & Children)
Lara Rendl (Disarmament and Conflict Resolution)
Aayushi Sharma (Migrations)
Britt Gronemeyer (Healthcare)

Arwa Syed (Food & Water Security)
Tamyra Selvarajan (Energy)
Hilda Ariastuti (Archaeology)

Get involved

If you are a student or recent graduate who is interested in supporting The Bright Side, or other METO projects, please consider volunteering with the METO University Network.

We unite young people from around the world who make a real difference by supporting METO in many of our key operational areas. To find out more, click here.


The articles selected for publication in this bulletin have been specially chosen in order to highlight the good work done every day across the region in order to improve the quality of life for citizens. It also highlights the advances in culture and the new archaelogical discoveries in the region, underlining that this region really has been a cradle of civilization for millenia.

The views expressed in the linked articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the Middle East Treaty Organization and their inclusion in our bulletin should not be interpreted in any way other than we think they’re interesting stories that should be more widely known. We will never intentionally include articles that promote or condone violence and discrimination in any form.

For any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact

Subscribe to receive The Bright Side via e-mail

To receive The Bright Side in your e-mail inbox, please use the form below to subscribe.