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In the wake of the unprecedented uprisings that swept across North Africa and the Middle East in late 2010 and 2011, there was much speculation that these events heralded the beginning of a new age of democratic transition across the region. The result of a four-year research project, this book offers a cross-country analysis of the dynamics of democratic transition and of the state of democracy and authoritarianism from Tunisia, Sudan and Egypt to Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. Elbadawi and Makdisi identify specific economic, political and social conditions influencing the transition across the region and in each of the individual countries, as well as the requisite conditions for consolidating democracy once the process is initiated. It examines the struggling, halted and painful transitions, where these have for the time being failed, as well as instances in which democratic consolidation can be observed. This is a unique and wide-ranging examination of Arab development and democracy for those examining the fate of authoritarian regimes.
Diversifying oil economies toward manufacturing and more sophisticated products and services is one of the most pressing public policy challenges facing these countries. This paper provides new evidence about the impact of oil rents and real exchange rate (RER) undervaluation on various measures of exports, using a global sample spanning 1980–2011. Our results suggest that RER undervaluation can ameliorate the negative impact of oil rents on exports, and that it can be particularly effective in countries with underdeveloped financial markets or low institutional development. In the light of these findings, the paper argues that a strategy of depreciating the real currency can be a viable, albeit second best, industrial policy choice in order to promote export diversification, technical upgrading and export sophistication in institutionally-deficient oil and mineral-dependent economies. Moreover, this type of public policy can minimize the reliance on traditional vertical industrial policy, which usually requires high initial institutional capacity in order to succeed.
Despite being blessed with immense oil resources, Arab countries have neither achieved economic prosperity nor became developed countries. This chapter provides a brief overview of issues related to understanding the origins and symptoms of the resource curse and the challenges triggered by oil dependency in the Arab World including the traditional issues related to economic diversification, Dutch Disease etc. Among the novel issues explored are the interactions between oil windfalls and weak institutions (including fiscal institutions and optimal exchange rate regimes) as well as the role of political economy factors of the impact of resource rents on the strategies of the ruling elites to fend-off potential revolts that might remove them from power.