Conference Summary

Project: Middle East and North Africa Programme

Chatham House

This is a summary of a conference held in September 2011, to assess the economic causes and consequences of the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The conference was organized by Chatham House and FTI Consulting. 

Key recommendations:

  • Western governments need to re-evaluate their past practices and rethink their approach to the region, resisting the temptation to shape the emerging Arab world in their own image and respecting the rights of the countries in the region to disagree or forge a different path. Both regional and global powers will find there are new limits on their leverage.
  • All parties need to improve accountability and financial transparency. In most countries, economic problems have stemmed not so much from a lack of resources as from a misallocation of resources. Corruption, a central grievance in the protests in many countries, needs to be addressed as a key issue in improving the legitimacy of governments in the region.
  • Economic problems could still endanger political progress. There may be further revolts to come in North Africa if progress on creating jobs and improving living standards is not sufficient. 
  • The GCC should spearhead the establishment of an Arab Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to coordinate Arab economic support, ensure there is a coherent plan, and avoid waste and duplication.

Event details. (plus video, audio and transcripts)

Economics of the Arab Spring project >>