Skip to main content

What is causing the revolt in Egypt?

 
I cannot stop watching the news on the revolt in Egypt. It is really an historical event not only for Egypt, but also for the entire region.  People in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez have gone to the streets to bring down the government of Hosni Mubarak.   To give context on how big this is it. Mubarak, who is 80 years old, has been in power for almost 30 years. He came to power after the assassination of Anwar El-Answat in 1981 by Army officers oppose to the Israel-Egypt peace treatment.  The agreement, highly sensitive at that time, made Egypt the first Arab nation to recognize Israel. Mubarak came through the military ranks, the Air Force, which is highly respected in the country as oppose to the police.

As we are looking to these events across the region: The Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, the “Day of Anger” in Lebanon, protests in Jordan, Yemen, and now Egypt, I cannot stop asking what has sparked these protests.  Given the history with Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, there is always a concern that Islamic religious parties are driven these protests. Though we can all agree that the events in Tunisia may have caused a domino effect, I think we need to look at the social, economic and political picture to understand the root of the problem. 

Let’s look at Egypt and Tunisia. From a political perspective, dictators, with oppressive regimens, have ruled both countries in the last 30 years.   In Tunisia case, Ben Ali was in power since 1987 while in Egypt Mubarak from 1981.  In both countries, the political opposition is non-existence. They have been beaten, jailed, exiled and almost eliminated. However, we also have many non-democratic regimens across the regions such as in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen. Does this mean that they are likely to follow? Though t is hard to predict, we cannot state that having an authoritarian regimen is the only cause of these events.

From a social perspective, both countries have a young homogeneous population with a sizable and educated middle class. In Egypt, which is the most populated country in the Middle East, Egytians account for 91% of the population with an average age of 25. According to the renowned economist Galal Amin, educated, middle-class citizens constitute between 40 percent and 50 percent of Egypt’s population. In Tunisia, the middle class is estimated to account for almost 60%. This is a big contrast from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Sudan… Thus, having a sizable, educated and young middle class might be playing a factor in these protests.

In the economic front, both countries are going through really hard times.  Last year the unemployment rate stood at 9.7% in Egypt while 14% for the same period in Tunisia. Both countries have also one of the highest import tariffs on agriculture commodities. In other words, the price of basic staples such as rice, bread, and corn has significant increase in the last few years. These products have been heavily subsidized in other countries in the region such as Syria and Iran going through the same hardship.

In conclusion, contrary to the default perception in the US that religious parties might be behind these movements, the reality cannot be more different. The main drivers might just be unemployed young educated middle class citizens under an authoritarian regimen who are fighting for a better future.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Aim for Love, Not Likes

Love is an unconditional emotion while like is a more watered-down version of love. Loving someone means that he or she means everything to you while liking someone implies that you are only happy being with that person. Love involves deeper, stronger emotions, while like is more of a tender feeling towards that special someone. In a world of infinite choices, love is everything. Like is a nice to have.  Today, we live in a world of abundance, where people intent to create content surpass their time to consume it. Video content is much easier and cheaper to produce than at any other time in history. YouTube sees 400 hours of video uploaded every minute. Facebook has more than 250,000 status updates in the same span. We could never read and see everything online.  With unlimited possibilities and limited time, we pay sustainable attention to what we love and divided attention to what we like. We spend hours watching Homeland and give our divided attention to our news feed on Facebook. …

Adidas kills TV. Now, let’s debate

The News: Adidas is ditching TV for digital. The company is looking to boost its e-commerce revenues from $1.06 billion in 2016 to $4.25 billion by 2020 — and Adidas wants to use digital channels to get there. The Rationale: Fish where the fish are. Younger consumers don't watch TV anymore. They spend most of their time on their mobile devices. The Controversy: Why do they want to ditch a medium that is allegedly more "critical" to the brand and that generates more sales than digital? Here we have the Debate between TV and digital: Media Consumption TV: People are watching TV now more than ever.  Digital: People are consuming media more than ever, but mostly through digital devices. The Fact: In 2017, people are projected to spend 6 hours on digital – with the majority being mobile devices - while only spending 4 hours consuming television according to the eMarketer forecast. Younger viewers watch 2.5 times more internet video than TV. Consumers aged 13-24 watch 12.1 hours …

Winter and Summer in Adland

It is winter in Adland.  We have moved from a world of scarcity to a world of abundance and algorithms.  We have lost the power of influence. Trust has been severely damaged.  Consumer attention is the new bottleneck. We no longer decide who sees us. Instead, we get picked.  30 second is not enough anymore. We need to take consumers through a scenic journey to create a long lasting relationship.  Everyone is a publisher. It is easier than ever to create, but harder than ever to make a hit.  The impulse to make has far outrun the desire to consume.  New forces have emerged in the form of sophisticated algorithms.  A new model has surfaced called "pay per play,” which scored everything we do on relevance to feeding the machine. It decides what gets picked, when, and where, based on extreme relevancy.  Mass media has vanished. Precision and personalization have emerged.  It is winter in Adland. The good days are all long gone.  It is Summer in Adland We now have the power to make bra…