After the ‘Arab Spring’: Development Challenges and Solutions
Since the extraordinary events of early 2012, living conditions for the majority of the working population in the Arab world have not changed for the better, and indeedif anything have worsened. Food prices are at their highest since 2008, the standards for resource allocation are the same and several civil wars are ongoing in the region. Changes in the allocation and redistribution arrangements would require a restructuring of the group, the social agency or the classes that characterize social formations. Income inequality in the Arab World has risen at a rate which actually makeseconomic growth unattractive to the mass of the working population. Whereas in the immediately post independence era, the income of working people grew faster than the incomes of the rich, by 1980, the income of the richer classes was growing at a rate that undercut the incomes of the poor.The incomes and shares of total income of the working poor declined and fell. On the institutional level, private undertakings have siphoned resources from the public sphere and put less back in than they took out. The social rift that came to exist between the public and the private spheres after twenty or thirty years of liberalization was unbridgeable under the old ideological setting. Now, more than two years after the uprisings, in the countries that have so far managed to escape collapse and civil war, the social and economic agenda seems to differ little from its predecessors.
What is to be done? A decade ago, long before the Arab uprisings, Middle East development specialists drew our attention to key weaknesses in the areas such as education, employment, gender, and institutional capacity. Now, four years after the Arab uprisings, there is much more turbulence and uncertainty in the political and social order. Egypt in particular faces daunting problems. The first day of the MEI conference will strive to examine the economic and social underpinnings of the uprisings, document the changes in economic and social conditions since 2011, and critique the reform efforts in post-‐uprising governments. The second day will focus on solutions to three critical problems: growing gender inequities, increasing societal inequities, and the deficiencies of the neoliberal development model. The MEI conference contributors will be asked to offer practical, policy-‐relevant strategies for dealing with these issues in hopes of furthering human development in the region.