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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid