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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: June 2014

5 - Bread and Olive Oil



The Arab world is the most food-insecure region of the world. As a group, the Arab countries also suffer from sweeping inequality in the distribution of wealth and resources among social classes. We argue in this chapter that there are direct linkages between the Arab uprisings and social and economic policies of the Arab states, which have resulted in the atomization of rural society and in the creation of a disconnect between people, land, food and the state.

From this central thesis, four primary corollaries emerge. First, social discontent in the Arab world is rooted in the rapid economic transformation from an agriculture-based economy in the mid-twentieth century to service-, trade- and real-estate-based economies catalyzed by oil rent. Second, the demise of the farm sector was accelerated by the accumulation of land, ecological resources and state facilities in the hands of a few beneficiaries of the various regimes. Third, this demise was caused by, and led to the flourishing of, trade-based food regimes where low-quality food is available cheaply and good-quality food is a luxury. Lastly, successive Arab governments since decolonization have practiced a double level of rural development policies.

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