Arab Spring 'cost $600bn' as Egyptians protest economic strife

Arab Spring 'cost $600bn' as Egyptians protest economic strife
2 min read
11 November, 2016
The Arab Spring cost the Middle East an estimated $600 billion, according to a UN report that made no mention of the violent counter revolutions carried out by the regimes
The Egyptian revolution has fuelled economic woes in the country [Getty]
The Arab Spring has cost Middle East economies $614 billion, a UN agency has said, with protests planned in Egypt on Friday as it bears the brunt of economic woes.

The figure, resulting from regime changes, continuing conflict and falling oil prices since the 2011 uprisings, is the equivalent of six percent GDP, based on growth estimates made before the revolutions started which toppled four leaders, making regimes and their supporters plunge Yemen, Syria and Libya into war.

The estimate, from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, is the first of its kind by a global economic body.

Mohamed el Moctar Mohamed el Hacene, ESCWA's economic development director, said the region needed support from the international community to recover.

"We have seen in Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Balkans the support they got in order to recover after conflict. We have not seen so far such support occurring for the Arab region," he said.

Oil prices began to slide in mid-2014 and fell to 13-year lows this January, hitting producer countries such as Saudi Arabia, and others including Lebanon that rely on remittances from citizens working in Gulf Arab states.

But el Hacene said the oil downturn would probably benefit producer countries.

"They will put in place economic reforms leading to real diversification," he told Reuters.

Egyptians are looking at a period of hardship as the government unrolls austerity measures ahead of the International Monetary Fund programme, which will inject $12 billion into its economy in turn for Egypt floating the Pound.

The country has endured months of shortages of products ranging from sugar to baby formula as inflation and economic downturn plague the country since a coup brought the current president to power.

Previous Cairo governments had avoided the measures fearing unrest, as many people face even higher living costs in a country where millions are living off hand-outs, but President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says Egypt no longer has the luxury of postponing them.

A so-called "Revolution of the Poor" was planned to take place in Cairo on Friday, although security forces have been clamping down on people organising anti-government demonstrations.