OXFORD – The wave of revolts that swept across the Arab world two years ago were fueled by demands for freedom, bread, and social justice. But, although the revolutions toppled dictators and transformed societies, these core objectives remain as distant as ever. In fact, the economic challenges facing the Arab Spring countries have become even more pressing, weighing heavily on these countries’ political prospects.
Unemployment has nearly doubled in Tunisia and Egypt, and foreign direct investment has dried up across the Arab world. Tourism revenues, while resilient, are declining, and fiscal challenges remain considerable. But the economic urgency is not reflected in the policy response, which has been painfully slow or non-existent.