The best course of action (and often neglected priority) for an impoverished nation to stand up on its own two feet is to have a sound system of education. Well, that and no dictator and overtly corrupt political officials who favor their own fat bank accounts and unquestioned power over the rights of humanity, or war lords to reap the rewards of a regime of fear over an oppressed people, but y'know...
The issue of the need for improved education in the Middle East and North Africa have been addressed in the MENA Development Report entitled The Road Not Traveled: Education Reform in the Middle East and Africa.
I was disappointed that they neglected to include mention of the UAE's explosively developing education reform, especially with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's campaign, Dubai Cares which aims to finance and support the education impoverished Muslim countries. They've even got everyone's best buddy Bill Gates on board. Let's just hope they don't furnish the impoverished youth of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia with Windows Vista. That would just be fucking cruel.
Of course one can argue that education isn't the forefront of someone's mind when they don't know if they'll live to see tomorrow, so I believe that the first steps of an education reform in these and other impoverished countries is to focus on teaching them skills and information that will permit them to sustain themselves as individuals with the option of further and higher education always on the table too. This, in turn, will contribute positively to their immediate society and to their country. I totally advocate the "teach a man to fish" philosophy, but you can't very well do that if the country you live in doesn't even let you get to the lake, or if they do, just snatch that damn fish away from you, or else the leader feels that it's far more beneficial to focus all his attention and finances on hating another country than realizing the suffering of his own.
Until changes are made in the government of these countries, all the caring and donations in the world won't do a damn thing, but I have hopes.