Middle East and North African countries (MENA) have achieved much to be proud of in human development. Falling child mortality and fertility have transformed family structures in most MENA countries. Despite important advances in health, education, and income, there are certain
aspects human development in which MENA countries have not progressed as far. There are inequalities in human development regionally, within each country and for specific demographic groups, most importantly for youth and women. In this paper I review the record of human
development in the MENA region to highlight areas in which the region has been more successful, as well those in which human development has lagged in absolute terms or relative to economic growth. I draw attention to certain important characteristics of the region that distinguish it from other developing regions, in particular the presence of oil income and delayed demographic transition.