The COVID-19 Arab Monitor: Highlighting the Status and Response to COVID-19 in the Arab Region

  • Zahy Abdul Sater and Jasmin Lilian Diab
  • July 15, 2020

In spite of dramatically different levels of health system preparedness throughout the region, Arab countries’ overall health management strategies, characterized by strict containment measures implemented in the very early stages of the outbreak, have proved efficient in limiting the spread of the pandemic in the region.[3] States in the region have progressively begun to ease restrictions on both movement and economic activities as of May 2020, and have been gradually moving toward a relaxation of restrictive measures on the general public. The pandemic has however, challenged Arab economies’ ability to cope as the virus short- and long-term amid already strained, ill-equipped and overcrowded medical facilities.[4]


The Arab Region, which is home to a total population of 423 million,[5] has been hit by the Coronavirus epidemic in escalating numbers. Housed in one of leading academic institutions in the Arab world, the Global Health Institute (GHI) provides a unique and contextualized approach to the COVID-19 disease that is tailored to the cultural, political, and financial dynamics of the Arab region. A database centralizing all efforts in the areas across the region is still absent. With the aim of filling this gap, as well as highlighting the status of COVID-19 and the respective responses from the twenty-two countries in the Arab Region, the COVID-19 Arab Monitor (COV-AM) serves as a hub for the region’s COVID-19 realities and its evolution across various strands.


The COVID-19 Arab Monitor currently highlights the status and response of COVID-19 in the Arab Region across three strands:


COV-AM Dashboard: An up-to-date automated live feed of emerging cases in the region across the 22 Arab countries. Graphs are currently embedded from “Our World in Data” website to include all Arab countries. It highlights the confirmed cases, deaths, case fatality ratio, and trajectory of mortality rates in the Arab countries. These graphs are always up to date and use the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dataset on COVID-19.


COV-AM Visualizations: COVID-19 visualizations exploring the disease dynamics in the Arab world. These visualizations will be produced periodically by GHI to track, analyze, and project the dynamics of COVID-19 in the Arab region. One such visualization depicts the status of COVID-19 cases and testing per million population in the Arab region.


COV-AM Timeline: A timeline of each country’s official government directives in the areas of COVID-19 response. This detailed timeline encompasses the developments in the areas of health, education, politics, economics, and travel restrictions in each of the Arab countries. It focuses on the official governmental directives, decisions and initiatives undertaken by each country to combat and contain COVID-19 since the outbreak of the virus.


The Arab region reported its first COVID-19 case in late early February 2020 in the United Arab Emirates.[6] In-line with trends around the world, the reported number of cases steadily increased drastically within the first few weeks of the outbreak.[7] Mortality rates as of May 2020 may be an illustration of the fact that the pandemic did not hit the Arab region as hard as anticipated.[8] For the moment, the number of COVID-19 related deaths in the region as opposed to the population, remains far below the rates experienced in many states across European and Asia.[9] Analysts and researchers alike have attributed this reality to MENA economies’ ‘swift and early response’.[10]


In this complex region, COV-AM highlights discrepancies in economic standing and policy advancement, as well as demographic and political realities make it impossible to implement a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. As the region continues to work through its own conflicts and crises on the political and economic levels, it is pivotal to note that the arrival of a pandemic has only resurfaced pre-existing issues, and rendered a unified solution for the region even more complex.


The Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut addresses an array of health concerns amid COVID-19. More information is available, here: COVID-19



Filters: Conflict, COVID-19, MENA, Arab World




[1] Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Conflict Medicine Program, Global Health Institute, American University of Beirut, Lebanon


[2] Research Associate on the Political Economy of Health in Conflict, Refugee Health Program, Global Health Institute, American University of Beirut, Lebanon and MENA Regional Focal Point on Migration, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, USA





[3] Institute for Contemporary Affairs (2020), The Impact of Covid-19 on the Middle East and North Africa, Relief Web, Retrieved at:


[4] Essaid, S. (2020), How are MENA countries fighting the COVID-19 pandemic?, Inspire Middle East, Euro News, Retrieved at:


[5] World Population Review (2020), Arab Countries 2020, Retrieved at:


[6] Al-Jazeera (2020), UAE confirms first cases of new coronavirus, Retrieved at:


[7] Ibid


[8] UN Migration Agency, IOM (2020), IOM Regional Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for the Middle East and North Africa COVID-19, Retrieved at:


[9] Ibid


[10] Farley, A. & Khurma, M. (2020), News Roundup: The MENA Region in the Time of COVID-19, Wilson Center, Retrieved at:


South of Global Health

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the author's, and do not reflect the views of the Global Health Institute or the American University of Beirut.


إخلاء المسؤولية: الآراء الواردة في هذا المقال هي آراء المؤلف ولا تعكس آراء معهد الصحة العالمي أو الجامعة الأمريكية في بيروت


South of Global Health is a blog of the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut which tackles the Global South’s most pressing health issues across multiple intersectional themes. The blog intends to serve as an outlet for health-related issues affecting and originating from the most vulnerable regions of the developing world.


South of Global Health has an open and ongoing Call for Blog Entries. It accepts pieces between 500 and 1000 words, and adopts footnotes in APA as its referencing style. Kindly submit all entries or queries to the Editor at or with the subject “South of Global Health Blog Entry”.