News / Middle East

Europe's Downturn Could Hamper Arab Spring Plans

People walk by Sawiris Towers, seven months after president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, and Egypt's business community becomes vocal in its pleas for the interim government to detail how it plans to revive confidence in the economy, in Cairo, Egypt, Septemb
People walk by Sawiris Towers, seven months after president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, and Egypt's business community becomes vocal in its pleas for the interim government to detail how it plans to revive confidence in the economy, in Cairo, Egypt, Septemb
Al Pessin

As new governments brought to power by the Arab Spring revolts work to deliver economic prosperity to their people, they are looking to Europe as a potential market and aid donor. The continent’s economic troubles could make it more difficult, however, for the Arab governments to reach their goals.

Egypt's popular revolution, and others in Tunisia and Libya, promised democracy and freedom from repression. They also unleashed pent up demands for more prosperity, a goal that depends in large part on international markets and investors.

Risk analyst Anthony Skinner of the Maplecroft company said, "This will have a bearing on how deep their pockets are, or how deeply they actually stick their hands into their pockets, and churn out revenue and aid to these markets, which have suffered a lot of turbulence in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. So, of course this will have a bearing on the overall ability of such markets to recover."

At the London School of Economics, Professor Iain Begg said Europe’s economic problems will be felt differently in the various Arab Spring countries.

"I think we need to look at the individual countries in the Arab world because they’re very different in their characteristics. Libya is an oil-rich country, and although it will take some time to get the oil revenue flowing again, Libya will benefit from losing its isolation. Much more difficult is Egypt, which is a very populous country, with fewer immediate export potentials," said Begg.

Libyan businessman Salem al-Maiar said demand will be important for Libya, too, particularly as it moves to diversify its oil-dominated economy.

"In the past 40 years the oil was the backbone of the economy, and it’s high time now to think seriously about diversifying and liberalizing the economy," he said. "Tourism... we have five UNESCO heritage sites registered in Libya. It is a beautiful country. You have the sea, the archaeology, the Sahara within 20-25 kilometers from each other."

Tunisia has long taken advantage of its location to earn money from tourism, mainly from Europe. But that was down sharply this year after the first Arab Spring revolt in December and January, and only now is beginning to come back.

Still, the ongoing downturn looms, although Begg said 2011 may prove to have been the worst year of the European economic crisis.

"With very few exceptions, the European countries are expected to grow the rest of this year, and certainly into 2012. So it continues to provide a potential market for the Arab countries. If it were to switch to a significant recession, then I’d start to be worried. But I don’t think it will," said Begg.

Moreover, Anthony Skinner said European investors soon may find the Middle Eastern countries more attractive.

"In terms of transparency,  in terms of there being a potential shift towards a more liberal democratic system, all of this, of course, bodes well for the individual countries concerned," said Skinner.

The joy and optimism of the Arab revolutions was bound to be followed by the more sober reality of developing countries in a global economic downturn. Now, experts say, the new Arab governments need to fulfill their political promises, be economically innovative, and hope their key markets and aid donors don’t go broke.

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

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

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