Blog #5: Egypt’s past and present

Egypt Fact-book

This page from the world fact-book from the Central Intelligence Agency website is about Egypt. It covers all the basic parts about Egypt such us its population, geography, and economy, and so on. The fact-book also includes a brief background about the history of this North African country.

Egypt is largely known for its great civilizations, many great dynasties ruled Egypt along the recorded history. Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, all have lived in Egypt once upon the time. With the emergence of Islam in the 7th century, Arabs introduced the language and the religion to the country, and continued to rule it for the next six centuries. In 1517, Egypt became under the Ottoman empire control until the control was taken by the British later on; and It was not until 1952 when Egypt acquired its full sovereignty. Egypt has became an important world transportation center after the establishment of the Suez Canal, a sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea opened in 1869.

The Egyptian population is estimated to be more than 94 million, and with such high population, high possibility of economic crises arose. Population density is skyrocketing in Egypt due to the fact that only 5% of the land is fertile, so people are concentrated in the narrow area along the Nile River wile vast areas of the country remain uninhabited. The limited natural resources are being exhausted by the increasing population, and issues about unemployment, housing, health care, and education exists. 

The per capital GDP is $12,100, agriculture counts only for 11.3% of the GDP, while industry counts for 35.8% and the remaining percentage is generated by other services. Cotton and rice are in the top exports in terms of agriculture, while tourism and textiles dominate the industrial part. Nonetheless, the unemployment is at 13.1% according to 2016 estimations. Things have became worse off after the 2011 events of the so called Arab spring that overthrown the previous government in the country.

Overpopulation and consequently deteriorating economy seems the two major problems facing Egypt today. Solving the overpopulation problem requires social understanding at the first stage. However, as Arabs, we like having big families and we consider children as pleasures that are highly valued. It looks like we have a problem of quantity over quality, but it is hard to convince the people who have a certain ideology to change it do to economic or ecological factors. The government should intervene to find the proper solution to the problem with the less possible costs. Another fact that triggered my attention is the recent tendency of Saudi Arabia to finish many Egyptian workers contracts in Saudi especially after the instability of oil price. Egyptian migrants in the Gulf countries are benefiting financially, but they are being attacked recently by the changing policies and the unstable economy of Saudi Arabia. For instance, Saudization policies are minimizing the numbers of Egyptian workers in the Saudi which would leave hundreds of thousands Egyptians who were used to send remittance to their families back home with to job. The current Egyptian government seems begging for the satisfaction of some Gulf countries, and I can not understand that far from financial profits. For instance, The debate on the two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, is ongoing and it is exciting to see where things are heading.


How Sisi Could Wreck the Egyptian Economy

This article by Ari Heistein Mor Buskila was published in May 4, 2017 by the national interest organization. The article discusses the current trends of the Egyptian economy. It compares the current government’s efforts with the previous government, and it shows that there is a general downtrend in the economy under president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Egypt is facing a partially collapsing economy, and the current government is responsible of implementing strategies that could stop this collapse. Recently, in order to rescue the Egyptian economy, president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has signed and agreement for a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Fuel and food subsided is a significant tool that allow poor Egyptian citizens to afford life necessities. However, the government started reducing these subsidies day after another, which increased the public rage consequentially. More over, privatization is present only on promises, no effort is seen on ground. The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF), which control about one-third of the Egyptian economy, are more concerned about controlling the economy and increasing the governmental projects. In Mubarak’s era, the role of EAFs was minimized, but it regained power after he was thrown. Furthermore, in late 2016, the Egyptian Pound (EGP) faced devaluation caused by the military’s strategist. This effort was justified by making Egypt less costly in order to attract tourist and foreigner investors. However, there are no tangible results mainly because of the continuing political instability in the country. In whole, the Egyptian economy is worse off under the current government that prioritizes the EAF and shows no efficiency in dealing with the countries economic struggles.


I don’t think that the Arab Spring has brought any positive change to Egypt in particular. The economy has collapsed, the Islamists gained more power, and the terrorist attacks increased. The fact that people have to wait decades after their revolutions succeed to see tangible positive result is the only thing that gives hope in this situation. The new president seems only concerning about strengthening his ties with the Gulf monarchs, even if it caused him to sell them some lands. I think the Egyptians will not continue to be patient with him, especially after they were able to overthrow two presidents in fairly short time. The Egyptian people has a high sense of humorous and smartness as I could concluded from knowing some of the Egyptian doctors and labors who works in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, they might face layoffs do to the new Saudization policies which would worsen their situations and the whole Egyptian economy. I hope things could get better, because everyone deserves having a decent life that fits his effort and ambition.


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