Mustapha Nabli (The Central Bank, Tunisia) began plenary 3 by stating “these have been wild months – our own Mediterranean tsunami”, but what next for new emerging democracies across the Arab region? Nabli outlined a number of key proponents that might ensure the sustainability of the democratic movements in Egypt and Tunisia.
The first was the need for inclusive growth – dependent on the creation of better quality jobs that meet the expectations of increasingly educated young people. The second was the need to tackle systemic corruption, which would help remove economic and political uncertainty. A third point was the need for introducing good governance, stating “we might have democracy established, but we won’t reap the benefits unless the checks and balances associated with good governance are implemented”.
There is almost certainly likely to be a decline in economic growth, and so economic stability is vital in ensuring a negative feedback loop does not emerge between politics and the economy, added Nabil.
The events currently underway in Libya have had their effect on the psyche of Tarik Yousef (Dubai School of Government). He declared, that “for over 40 years I have possessed no sense of national pride, until now. Now I feel like telling the world I am Libyan – I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the young people who have brought about this awakening”.
Yousef outlined in his presentation that the non-democratic regimes across the region have ultimately lost much of their legitimacy, and their ability to reinforce the non-democratic equilibrium. He outlined, that the balance of this equilibrium was tipped by the active voice of young educated people across the region through their calls for freedom . The future challenge lies in the fact that there is no blueprint for how we meet the challenges ahead, but Yousef is confident that “the revolution will translate its energy into economic and political blueprints” that have ability to sustain democratic transition.
Ishac Diwan’s (World Bank) presentation entitled ‘Arab revolution: how economics can help’ built on this sentiment by stating that the youth should become entrepreneurs of the system. They need to become part of the coalition, and have access to finance and capital so that they can become the beacon of growth and development (e.g by building SMEs).
Diwan also highlighted the need for a coalition between the poor, the youth, and capital. He felt that if one of these elements was not represented the system that emerges would become unstable.
The session concluded with the view that academics had an important role in helping the public understand the issues and challenges facing the region, and potential ways of overcoming them. It’s time for academics across the region to reach out!