News / Economy

Egypt's Unrest Hurts Economy

A HSBC bank branch remains damaged on the Arcadia shopping center, that was looted, damaged and set on fire by people in Cairo, Egypt, January 30, 2011.
A HSBC bank branch remains damaged on the Arcadia shopping center, that was looted, damaged and set on fire by people in Cairo, Egypt, January 30, 2011.

With an inflation rate near 13 percent and about 20 percent of Egypt's population living at or below the poverty level,  finding even the most basic necessities has become a daily struggle for many Egyptians. It is a situation many analysts say is bound to get worse the longer the protests continue.

"We've been standing in line for five hours just to get some bread; people are fighting over it. They are not happy with Mubarak. Look what they have gotten us into," said one man/

Although some blame the protests for the food shortages, even more blame President Hosni Mubarak's policies for the decline of Egypt's middle class.  

Elliott Abrams, a foreign policy analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the crisis has been years in the making. "People are asking for two things fundamentally.  They're asking for freedom and they are asking for bread.  Egypt has had a lot of economic growth, a lot of stock market rise, a lot of foreign direct investment.  But, it is not trickling down.  The rich are getting a lot richer; the poor are not getting richer," he said.

Despite economic reforms that have doubled Egypt's Gross Domestic Product since 2004, nearly 40 percent of Egypt's population gets by on less than $2 a day.  

"It used to be that college graduates, they get a sort of basic salary from the government and then they go out and get a second job to make ends meet. Today, people who are graduating in the past three years have a terrible problem getting enough money for housing, for a decent living. This economic discontent is behind the political discontent that is now rocking Egypt," said David Ottaway, the Washington Post's former Cairo Bureau Chief.

The unrest also threatens one of Egypt's most important sources of income - tourism, which supports one in every eight jobs. Thousands of tourists have cancelled visits and airlines say the busiest flights are outbound - as many more try to flee the country.

But at one Cairo's busiest bazaars, Canadian tourist Gary Lion says for now, at least, the protests seem a world away. "Of course we are not really used to what it should look like. This is still reasonably busy but we found the people here very warm and friendly, helpful and we really haven't encountered any problems," he said.

Outside the tourist bubble, Egypt's stock market and banks remained closed on Monday.  Analysts say the government's shutdown of the Internet continues to disrupt commerce - hurting thousands of companies that use the Internet to buy and sell goods.

Despite the tumultuous events that have rocked the country, Egypt's Suez Canal, a key passage for nearly 10 percent of the world's oil and other commodities, remains open.

But some are starting to question whether the canal will continue to remain isolated from the unrest.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.