American University of Beirut

South West Asia and North Africa Future of Work Hub



    The South West Asia and North Africa Future of Work (SWANA-FoW) Hub is part of the global FutureWORKS Collective, an initiative funded by the Intern​ational Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada. The Hub is hosted at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut. SWANA-FoW is a c​ollaboration​ between IFI, the Center for Research on Population and Health (CRPH) and faculty members from the Depa​​​rtments of Computer Science, Economics, and Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

    The Hub will contribute to research and advocate for evidence-based policies on employment and work in the SWANA Region. The major focus of the Hub is understanding the impact of the transition to low-carbon economies and the rise of the digital economy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on employment.


    1. Promote high-quality, innovative research that addresses key Future of Work challenges and opportunities to advance skills, strengthen social protection and promote decent work.
    2. Develop research on the impact of digital technological advancements such as AI, and the transition to a low carbon economy on the Future of Work and deliver innovative and effective policy responses.
    3. Support Southern-led research to ensure locally relevant solutions.
    4. Foster networks for knowledge sharing, peer learning, capacity strengthening, and evidence-based policy development support.
    5. Facilitate dialogue between policymakers, worker representatives, private sector, and civil society actors at the national and regional levels to help co-develop policies, regulations and legislation.

    ​​Future of Work Hub: A Catalyst for Change

    The FoW Hub is a platform for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and stakeholders to connect, share knowledge, and develop evidence-based policy recommendations and solutions for equitable and decent work landscape in the SWANA region.  The Hub seeks to collaborate with regional and national initiatives to support skills development programs and promote worker protection and labor regulations. To guide its mission, the Hub will support research focused on the following issues:


    1. Understand the impact of decarbonization and the transition to AI and digital economy on employment, human capital and worker mobility in the region.

      The abundance of oil and gas reserves led to a significant economic dependency on carbon in the region. For decades, both fossil-fuel rich and poor countries geared their labor force towards the oil and gas industry. The global transition towards low-carbon economies will likely significantly impact economic activity in the region. At the same time, the rise of AI, the digital economy, and remote work brings rapid changes and new potential for the workforce in the region. These significant structural changes come with a set of challenges and opportunities for national economies. The malleability of the labor force and its ability to adapt to these changes, the readiness of educational systems to equip young workers with new sets of skills, and the changing dynamics of intraregional migration must be investigated to understand the changing employment landscape.

    2. Evaluate institutional capacities to regulate labor markets and provide universal social protection.

      Global economic changes are redefining work by reshaping employer-employee relationships and reevaluating the concept of a lifetime career. In a region where state institutions vary in their robustness, and systems of social protection are limited in scope and capacity, these changes are likely to impact the sustainability of existing institutions of social protection and expose workers to additional insecurity in the short and long run.

    3. Investigate the impact of the changing modalities of work on the different forms of inequality and marginalized groups.

      There are many longstanding inequalities in the SWANA region – in wealth, income and opportunities. These inequalities correlate significantly with intersectional identities, sexuality, age, class, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, and geographical location. Exploring the relationship between inequality and the Future of Work is a significant line of inquiry. Digital transformation and decarbonization have the potential to mitigate persistent inequalities through the development and implementation of inclusive labor, governance, and technology-related policies, legislation, and regulation. However, inequality may also hinder or limit the economic transition.

    Accordingly, the Hub will issue annual Request for Proposals (RFPs). Each RFP will support two to three projects, fostering a diverse range of high-quality research on the FoW across the SWANA region's skills and labor market ecosystem.​

    Contact Us​

    South West Asia and North Africa Future of Work Reginal Hub
    American University of Beirut
    P.O. Box 11-0236,
    Riad El-Solh Beirut,
    Lebanon 1107 2020

    Mr. Samir Nassar
    Tel: +961-1-350000  Ext: 3326​
    Twitter: @SWANA_FoWHub

    Call for Grants and Proposals


    The economies of Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region are experiencing significant transformations due to technological advancements, globalization, and climate change. These changes present both opportunities and challenges. Its youth population offers a potential demographic dividend, but this can only be realized if the workforce is equipped with the skills demanded by the evolving job market. Transitioning to a low-carbon economy is essential, yet it requires careful planning to avoid job displacement and social disruption. Additionally, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digitalization presents its own set of challenges. These transformations raise concerns about SWANA's ability to promote inclusive and sustainable development while creating high-quality jobs and providing necessary training. Despite advancements in education, the labor market struggles with low participation rates, especially among youth and women, as well as widespread informal employment and skills mismatch.

    Request for Proposals

    RFP1: Informality of employment, the gig economy and social protection programs

    Link to call:     SWANA Hub RFPs - Round 1.pdf    French Version.pdf    Arabic Version.pdf

     Application Form.docx  FR-Application Form.docxطلب التقديم.docxBudget Template.xlsx

    Information session: link to register​

    Date & time: Monday, July 1, 2024, 14:00 PM Beirut Time (EEST, UTC+3)

    Submission deadline: August 31, 2024 23:59 Beirut Time (EEST, UTC+3)

    Early Career Scholars Program

    The first call for applications will be posted in fall 2024.​​


    Unsolicited Proposals

    Under some conditions the FoW SWANA hub could consider unsolicited proposals for funding. Applicants may submit unsolicited preliminary proposal (1 page concept note) to the hub for eligibility screening. Following the pre-screening stage, the applicant may be invited to submit a full proposal. Submitting an unsolicited proposal does not guarantee that it will be assessed.



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