News / Middle East

    The Egyptian Economy: Facing the Unknown

    The Nile has allowed agriculture to flourish for millenia, but a farmer's life remains hard, near Kafr Torky, Egypt, February 13, 2011
    The Nile has allowed agriculture to flourish for millenia, but a farmer's life remains hard, near Kafr Torky, Egypt, February 13, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Heather Murdock

    As Egypt works to replace the government of President Hosni Mubarak, the country’s financial future is still far from certain. Many Egyptians are confident that a new government will usher in a more efficient and equitable economy. With the country still in turmoil, though, the economic recovery could be as unpredictable as the political future.

    Five days after popular protests forced the resignation of Mubarak, many Egyptians are still euphoric from what is seen as the people’s victory.  Their future is unknown, they say, but it will have to be better than what they had before.

    With the stock market and banks closed, labor strikes unresolved, and some foreign businesses and tourists still avoiding Egypt, however, analysts fear that life could become harder before it becomes easier.

    Shops near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement, re-opened this week. Many workers said their losses were a small sacrifice compared to what the country gained. Bakr Mohamed El Sayed sells pyramid statues, replicas of the Sphinx and other gifts near the square.  He said 18 days without business left him broke, but he always has supported the protests. He thinks a new, free Egypt will draw more shoppers and foreign investors than ever before.

    "I don’t have business. I don’t have business. I don’t have money. I don’t have anything, but I wanted to change the system. I wanted to change the president," said Bakr Mohamed El Sayed.

    Other workers are more skeptical about the future. The public sector was thrown into upheaval last week, and many say they don’t want their rights to be forgotten behind the louder voice of the youth movement that spearheaded the revolution. On Monday, protests broke out across the country against employers in industries from textiles to media.

    In Cairo, angry transit workers gathered by the hundreds, demanding higher salaries and better working conditions. Police officers marched from Tahrir Square to the Ministry of the Interior, chanting, "We are all Egyptian," and accusing the minister of corruption and violence, while other protesters followed along accusing the officers of brutality and torture. Smaller protests broke out near the opera house, and about 20 employees stood outside a movie theater for a short time, demanding higher wages.

    Outside the Interior Ministry, police say their department’s reputation for brutality is a result of the leadership, and not the fault of the men on the street. Many say they still make less than $100 a month after 10 years in service.

    Officer Hassan Darwish said police officers could better serve the public if they had limits to their working hours and were paid better salaries.  Since the revolution, he added, policemen can finally say what they want.

    With the continuing turmoil, the Egyptian stock exchange and banks say they cannot re-open, and foreign investors and tourists continue to stay away. A French bank estimated that at the height of the revolution, Egypt’s economy lost more than $300 million a day.

    Predictions for the country’s economic growth also have dropped substantially - to about 3.4 percent this year from previous forecasts of 6 percent.

    Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit has called for help from the international community, saying Egypt has been hurt by the political crisis”

    Analysts say it would have been impossible for Egypt's governing system to collapse without a massive economic fallout.

    Marcus Marktanner, an economist at the American University in Beirut whose research focuses on the role of the state in economic development, said any new Egyptian government must address problems, including wide-scale inefficiency. He noted that reducing government waste also will mean increased unemployment. Marktanner said before Egypt can recover, it will have to weather a period of greater hardship.

    "You basically have to tear down a house and build another one, so of course the bigger the house was that you tore down, the more people will suffer from it," said Marktanner.

    Many Egyptians say, though, that the risks associated with political and economic change will be worth it in the end. They blame much of the widespread poverty in Egypt on government corruption, and say that without leaders stealing from the people, Egypt will prosper like it never has before.

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

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora