September 8th, 2011
02:23 PM GMT
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In the opulence of probably the world’s most luxurious hotel, finance ministers from more than 20 Arab countries have gathered to examine the state of the global economy. They are also calculating the impact the debt crisis in Europe and the slowdown in the United States could have at the crossroads of East and West, the Middle East.

But nearly nine months into the Arab Spring, the finance ministers who are in charge of regional economies without the benefit of huge oil and gas reserves have expressed deep concerns about funding transitions in Egypt and Tunisia and potentially in Syria and Yemen.

The Chairman of the Arab Monetary Fund Jassim Al Mannai painted a picture of a prolonged period of economic uncertainty: "The fear is that economies of countries whether those that witnessed political shifts or those that are still witnessing political unrest today, will take a long time before they recover and go back to normal.”

At the end of May in Deauville, France, G8 leaders declared that there would be a $40 billion package of support for countries facing major political and economic upheaval – half of which would come from institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and the other half split between Gulf States of the Middle East and other countries, still not clearly defined.

The problem is that what has been pledged to date and what has been released on even the most generous of spreadsheets doesn’t add up. The former Citigroup banker and now interim finance minister of Tunisia Jaloul Ayed said the wait has been a painful one.

Ayed said the World Bank and the African Development Bank had provided funding, but that money is earmarked for medium term development projects.

"We have not yet received any specific commitments from other parties. We were hoping already in Deauville that there are some more clear commitments to be made and maybe even specific pledges. We understood afterwards that we were not to expect that to happen".

Updated figures from his government point to slumping revenues and frustration amongst the youth who took to the streets in the first of the uprisings. Youth unemployment remains high at 30%; tourism revenues have plummeted 40% in 2011.

Lebanon has seen a record influx of capital after the 2008 global banking crisis, but its finance minister Mohammad Safadi described the lag in funding as dangerous – since the youth who yearned for freedom and jobs will struggle to obtain the latter.

“Freedom they might get but jobs – if they are not supported through this transition period, we will find more and more without jobs.”

Egypt’s interim finance minister Hazem El-Beblawi said he had secured fresh commitments from host country the United Arab Emirates, and that the $7 billion pledged from the region will be delivered. So far, his aides noted that a half billion dollars has been paid from the Gulf States. El-Beblawi, a former Arab Monetary Fund advisor, said that donor countries and others have linked funding to specific political and economic reform milestones. 

He will sit down in Marseilles, France, for a G8 meeting of finance ministers with Arab participation this weekend, where he is hoping for some daylight on the next tranche of money.

The interim governments in Egypt and Tunisia have a difficult task at hand ahead of elections next month.  As Tunisia’s minister Ayed said during our interview, the government needs to convey a strong message that “help is on the way.”

When it comes to the cash, the reality may be, not just yet.



soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Canuck Feed

    SHOCK: Most Canadians Broke .... one week away from financial disaster ...

    http://canuckreport.ca

    September 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  2. Mohamed Ali

    Arab Spring is all about intellectual educated Muslim Arabs vs illiterate dictatorial uneducated Muslim Arabs. How long will these illiterate leaders be it in Saudi Arabia, UAE or other Arab country smell the coffee ? It's time to move out of the way and give intellectual Arab Muslims to govern, bring peace. Illiterate dictators only waste all the oil wealth in controlling or bribing its citizens like in Qatar etc. All to stay in power. The Qatar kingdom is the most sinister, contradictory and hypocritical. Example, it's role in Libya ! It's only a matter of time that the whole GCC will EVENTUALLY BE TOPPLED TOO.

    September 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  3. steven802

    Think before you act, and do not follow blindly what the west preach. Yes! freedom you may have but it will come with chaos and anarchy.

    September 9, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  4. kit gainer

    Don't ask us for money. We are broke.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  5. Marc

    Don't tell us about "your Arabic spring". Every sane person can see what this is all about. The few literate-educated Muslims are a tiny small minority compared to the illiterate masses of fundamentalist. They want Islamic states, with sharia. Their end goal will be the destruction of Israel and the Western civilizations. We in the West have troubles enough with these stupid illiterate crouds with their Middle Aged desert religion. Leave us. Don't cry for money. In Saudi Arabia there seem to be some opulent wealthy sheiks. Go and beg there.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  6. cactus

    I think the Arab spring will eventually turn around and bite us in the butt.

    September 10, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  7. Hiruu

    Spring will bring alot of rain....lol.

    September 10, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  8. CNN "NEWS"...

    CNN "NEWS": Do you realy know what is going on with the "Arab Spring:????
    Read this for example ! :

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/09/09/egyptians-ransack-building-housing-israel-embassy/

    September 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  9. Siri2

    I hear the Greek spring people are keen on cash as well.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  10. kato

    who wants some cash? I got none

    September 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  11. cometlinear

    Marc makes an excellent point. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and UAE are all flush with cash. Let them support their brothers.

    September 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  12. jose

    Arab spring will end in Islamic dictatorships. Just like when USA financed Taleban on Afganisthan in the 80's to depose a democratic government. Libya will be the nation that will suffer more, invaded by NATO terrorists, their future is wars and dictatorship, just like Iraq. It's a matter of time for USA / NATO starts to try to depose the new "democratic" leaders of the arab spring.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  13. Ray

    Marc is an Israeli posting comments on an American media board. Marc, go post comments on Hareetz and leave us alone. Stop pretending to be one of us...we have had enough!

    September 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  14. Ariely

    THE FOULS PARADE! Will they ever learn?
    ------------------
    1: France sheltered Humainy while he was preaching against Iran Shah.
    **Result: Islamist Iran standing against democracy,human rights,liberalism.
    Preparing to impose Shia type Islam worldwide- including NUKS.

    2: USA helps unconditionally the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat USSR.
    USA didn’t take seriously the Islamist and Taliban" fight all infidels' worldwide" agenda.
    **Result:? Well you know it!

    3:Presidednt Bush demanded democratic election in Gaza and Lebanon without banning Islamist ideologies using terror.
    **Result: Islamist terror organization –Hamas and Hisbulla are in power.

    4:NATO helped the Libyan insurgents without questioning their ideology.
    **Result: Islamist rules will be imposed in Libya.
    El Qaida activist have been seen among rebels leaders.

    5:Obama leads the free world to legitimize the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt,Tunis,Syria.
    Muslim brotherhood leaders declared that:
    *Osama Ben Laden was a Muslim martyr
    *Hitler didn’t finish the job- The Muslims will finish
    *Christians will not be allowed in management government position on top of Muslims
    *A counsel of clerics will monitor and impose that the elected government will follow Islam law-Sharia
    *Woman will follow Islamic home duties
    * Muslims can come closer to Allah by waging jihad against all non-Muslims,Christians,Jews, atheists, in every possible manner.
    **Result? Scenario- ME Islamist = Taliban*40

    6: The free world has committed to help Arab countries with 80 milliards $.
    However they didn’t required parties preaching for anti western values and militant policy using terror against the all non Muslim world to take part in the democratic system!

    ****** Foul me one-shame on you; Foul me twice shame on me ******

    How many times the west will be fouled by Islamist?
    Remember:
    The Nazi get to power in free election!
    Don’t repeat Chamberlin

    September 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Isabella Payne

    Do you believe that Syria spying on dissidents?

    December 14, 2011 at 6:01 am |
  16. Nabil Frik

    Microfinance could be a Solution
    Nabil Frik

    January 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Allen A. Bond

    You've got a great deal to own superb from the elements within these types of athletic shoes; the actual rest is actually a similar since the aged types backed upward Allen A. Bond

    August 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm |

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