The economic outlook for countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region varies markedly, with the oil-exporters seeing a mild pickup in growth in 2011 on the back of higher oil prices, and the oil-importers experiencing a dramatic slowdown, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says in its latest assessment of the region. The IMF''s Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia, released Wednesday, projects growth in the MENA region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, at 3.9% in 2011, down from 4.4% in 2010. The region''s oil-exporting countries (excluding Libya) - Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen - are forecast to expand by 4.9 percent in 2011, due to higher oil prices and oil production. However, growth among the region''s oil importers - Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, and Tunisia - will register just under 2%. The IMF''s Middle East and Central Asia Department Director Masood Ahmed, speaking at the launch conference of the report in Dubai today, said, "Since the beginning of this year, a deterioration in the international economic outlook and the buildup of domestic social pressures have resulted in an economic slowdown in many of the region’s oil-importing countries. "But we should not lose sight that the ongoing historical transformation holds the promise of improved living standards and a more prosperous future for the people in the region." Economic activity in the region''s oil-exporting countries has clearly improved, bolstered by continued high energy prices.