Mapping creative and cultural industries in the south of Mediterranean





Future competitive strategies


Cultural and Creative industries


“The Cultural and Creative industries as a competitive advantage for the regional growth”


The starting point: creativity as a driving force

The great potential of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) and the significant contribution that they can make not only at a social and cultural level but also at an economic level begin to be of general knowledge. One of the reasons that make cultural and creative industries so unique is that they rely on unlimited resources: creativity and tradition.

In addition to this, it is also well known the existence of a particularly rich historical heritage, both tangible and intangible, in various countries of the southern Mediterranean. With the double purpose of preserving this heritage but also taking advantage of it, the United Nations agency UNIDO, in collaboration with the European Union, initiated in 2014 a development program of the CCI at regional level. Cluster Development was, from the beginning, the technical team in charge of the work.

The project: applying the clusters’ methodology to Cultural and Creative Industries

Seven countries participated to the program: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.

In order to proceed to the identification of the existing skills, it was decided to use the cluster tool. In effect, the concept of cluster (productive concentrations based on the specificities and unique characteristics of each territory) proved to be a proper measure of analysis with respect to the main objectives of the program. Through this approach were allowed both the identification of the historical heritage of each territory and its adoption as a distinctive and differentiating element in pursuit of economic development.

The initial analysis showed great challenges: from the unawareness of the economic reality, to the disregard of the existing skills, to the continuous loss of these skills and knowledge as companies and artisans entered into low-cost outsourcing logics. It was also found out, among other things, some deficiency in terms of public policy, difficulties regarding access to capital, and a difficulty from the companies’ side in terms of modernization and development of the company itself.


The program was structured in two main phases: a first phase of mapping of the territories, and a second phase of development of the main clusters identified in each country.

  • The mapping allowed the identification of a total of 144 CCI clusters or concentrations: 47 in Egypt, 25 in Tunisia, 21 in Morocco, 17 in Algeria, 14 in Lebanon, 11 in Jordan and 9 in Palestine. These 144 concentrations met the 5 criteria stipulated by M. Porter to be considered a cluster, which opened the door to being able to work individually with each of them in the improvement of competitiveness through cluster initiatives.
  • A strategic segmentation of the CCIs industries was done, distinguishing 4 main segments. Most of the 144 identified clusters were located in the segment of the design industries (home textiles, fashion, jewelry, furniture, decoration…).
  • For each of the 144 identified clusters, an individualized description of both quantitative and qualitative criteria was done, describing information such as: the total number of companies, total number of jobs, aggregate turnover (and weight in regional GDP), level of exports, identification of sources of competitive advantage, productive capacity, factor conditions, environmental sustainability, social and cultural impact, etc.
  • An additional very high number of other “non-clustered” economic realities of great importance in the CCI field were also identified. These other realities did not meet the 5 conditions stipulated to maximize the success of a cluster initiative, so it was recommended to continue its development with other approaches.

The knowledge provided by the mapping allowed not only the selection of the clusters with more potential for the development of the second phase of the project, but also provided valuable information of general interest (available for subsequent initiatives) and above all the awareness from the territories’ side regarding the enormous existing potential that they had in their assets.

In 2015, the program continued with the selection of clusters at national level, plus the development of cluster initiatives in two pilots per country.