The Arab Spring and Its Negative Effects on Egypt

The term “Arab Spring” means a lot of different things to different people. In a dictionary definition meaning, it refers to a “… wave of pro-democracy protests and uprisings that took place in the Middle East and North Africa beginning in 2010 and 2011, challenging some of the region’s entrenched authoritarian regimes”(Britannica). It all started when a street vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire in front of a municipal building to protest his work conditions.

This act of protest was what inspired other countries across the Middle East to defy expectations and fight for the democracy they wanted.

This concept meant an abundance of change on many levels for a lot of countries, one of them being Egypt. For the country of Egypt this was a catalyst, a spark that set charge to years of political and economic unrest. The negative effects of the Arab Spring on Egypt’s political and economic structures impacted the country’s ability to fully serve its citizens now, six years later.

Prior to the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Egypt, the country was led by long time leader Hosni Mubarak, who commanded the military and made all chief political decisions from 1981 to 2011. During his time as the fourth president of the country, Mubarak was known to have held onto some of the previous president, Anwar Sadat’s ways. This included the liberalization of Egypt’s economy and a commitment to the 1979 Camp David Accords, a number of documents which led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, as well as a framework for dealing with Palestinian territories.

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Mubarak was also known to have actively engaged in not-condoning things like brutality, torture, political censorship and even restrictions on freedom of speech. During hit time as president, a chance at political reform, or an opportunity to change up the government system or those in power, was limited. No one was allowed to run against him as an oppositional candidate in 2005, and not much changed since then. Mubarak is also a supporter and enforcer of the “emergency law rule”, under which “police powers are extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship is legalized”(Guardian).

Economically, before the revolution, the way the government spent money especially the flotation of the Egyptian pound, did not help the general public. A reform of the tax system and strategic reductions in governmental social spending, resulted in “staggering hardships for the majority of the people” (US Library of Congress). With the options for housing being so limited and hard to get, “marriage became harder for young people; it became common to have a family of six or seven living together in a single room”(US Library of Congress).

As of 1989, early in Mubarak’s presidency, Egypt continued to have an uneven distribution of wealth; about 2,000 families had annual incomes in excess of 35,000 Egyptian pounds, while more than 4 million people earned less than 200 Egyptian Pounds”(Brown 43). It was being involved in these activities and not giving enough attention to what the country wanted or needed, that led to the famous revolution in 2011, resulting in Mubarak stepping down from power.

During the revolution, the protests and demonstrations that took place in the country were mostly organized by the country’s youth groups. These protests were mostly independent from the already existing opposition parties, and they took place in the capital and around the country. These protests were being held in the name of more freedom of expression, the right to a political opinion as well as the right to a good job, to name a few. The citizens wanted Mubarak to step down to allow the country to build up from the beginning and hopefully take on a new type of government, a new type of rule.

The Mubarak regime was intimidated by the protests, and responded with violent efforts. “As the demonstrations gathered strength, the Mubarak regime resorted to increasingly violent tactics against protesters, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths” (Britannica). The response from the government was not received well by the country or general public, as the demonstrations grew in strength. In February of 2011, Hosni Mubarak officially stepped down from power and passed the presidency on to his Vice President, Omar Suleiman, temporarily.

The current state of affairs in Egypt is a direct aftermath of what the Arab Spring did. Following the revolution, the economic situation is worse than ever before; the tourism industry has drastically shrunk, unemployment rates are soaring and poverty is spreading fast and far. With rates of inflation rising and the amount of tourists coming back to the country dropping, it is easy to see where the problems are. Tourists do not feel safe coming back to a foreign country where the economy is not stable, the citizens not happy.

In an interview done by NPR reporter Peter Kenyon of an Egyptian merchant Abu Saud Mustafa, 50, he learns how devastated the citizens are. “Ever since the revolution, there’s been no work… I have three kids, and I can’t even provide enough food for them”(Kenyon). In response to what he thinks the Egyptian government should be doing, he responded, “We need stability and safety, so the tourists will come back… This is vital to us, the poor people who depend on a day’s work so we can eat” (Kenyon).

Politically, the revolution has left Egypt with no elected official government. After an attempted election between 2011 and 2012 was nullified, it left the country without an elected institution, so the military and elected people from within the military are doing the current political working and making decisions. A lack of knowledge of how to run the country, coupled with a disregard for what the citizens want has resulted in not much advancement for the country since the Spring, either politically or economically.

The Arab Spring was a time of great change for Egypt. There was a lot of shifting that happened in the upper ranks of the government. The result from the uprising was dismissing Hosni Mubarak as the president and throwing the country into an economic chaos. As a result of the reptation the country has gotten from all the violent protests and demonstrations, the tourism industry has really suffered, therefore the citizens are really suffering. When looked at as a whole, the Arab Spring may have been started with good intention, but has perhaps resulted in greater struggles for the Egyptian people.

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The Arab Spring and Its Negative Effects on Egypt. (2023, May 17). Retrieved from

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