Ferid Belhaj took up the position of World Bank Group vice president for Middle East and North Africa on July 1, 2018. Prior to this, Belhaj served 15 months as chief of staff of the president of the World Bank Group. From 2012 to 2017, Belhaj was director for the Middle East, in charge of programs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran. In this capacity, he led the bank engagement on the Syrian refugee crisis and its impact on the region, including the creation of new financing instruments to help countries hosting forcibly displaced people. Before taking up his Mashreq assignment, Belhaj served as director for the Pacific Department (2009-2012), where he developed a regional strategy that scaled up bank engagement in small and fragile states, and tripled lending operations of the International Development Agency. Belhaj was the World Bank’s special representative to the United Nations in New York, where he engaged with various UN agencies on a range of programs, mainly climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, fragile and post-conflict states and more. Belhaj also served as country manager for Morocco and developed a new and multifaceted dialogue with one of the best performing middle income countries.