Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the level of accounting development and the adoption of IFRS in the four foremost economies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)—Egypt, Jordan, Libya and UAE. Through the lens of institutional theory, the study investigates the impact of economic, political, legal and cultural institutions on the development of these countries’ accounting practices and their readiness to use IFRS.
Design/methodology/approach: This research uses accounting development indices obtained from current literature as well as recent World Economic Forum and UNCTAD reports to examine the development of accounting in these MENA countries and their inclination to adopt IFRS.
Findings: The study identifies a number of impediments to the development of accounting practices and adoption of IFRS in these countries. It also reveals that three of the four MENA countries (Egypt, Jordan and UAE) could be placed on a level playing field with their principal trading partners (the US, the UK, Germany and Italy) given the formers’ business environments, methods of raising finance and levels of professional accounting practices.
This paper examines accounting development in four Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries with a view to explaining the need for adoption and sustenance of international financial reporting standards (IFRS). Although a strand of the previous literature argued that accounting practices in a country are affected by its level of economic development and the dynamics of its accounting needs (Radebaugh, 1975; Nobes, 1998, 2008), another strand contended that accounting systems and practices among countries differ because of differences in their legal systems, past history, colonial influences, economic systems and culture (D’Árcy, 2001; Boolaky, 2004; Ding et al., 2005; Cieslewicz, 2014). As such, it has been widely argued that countries with similar cultural background and colonial influences are more likely to use similar accounting systems and standards (Nobes, 1983; Gray, 1988; Cieslewicz, 2014). However, this argument is gradually losing ground because emerging evidence suggests that countries with different colonial influences and cultural backgrounds are harmonising their accounting systems and standards with the IFRS (see Liu et al., 2011). The current wave of globalisation favours the adoption of IFRS in most countries. Evidence from the literature suggests that IFRS adoption improves market developments and constitutes a key strategy used in stimulating investments and economic growth in developing economies (Perera and Baydoun, 2007; Hassan, 2008; Ramanna and Sletten, 2009; Assenso-Okofo et al., 2011; Ben Othman and Kossentini, 2015). Furthermore, code-law countries and Islamic jurisdictions such as Jordan, Kazakhstan, Egypt and United Arab Emirate (UAE) are moving towards adoption or adaptation of IFRS (Zeghal and Mhedhbi, 2006; Boolaky, 2007; Irving, 2008; Nobes, 2008; Al-Akra et al., 2009). Hence, it is important to understand the pattern of accounting environment for these countries particularly accounting development, IFRS adoption and sustenance given the regional or country-specific differences.