Arab Leaders may Prolong Poverty

Arab leaders try to counter protests with financial incentives, experts warn the “buyoffs” may cause long-term poverty and instability.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 11:49 PM

Egypt street protest.
Egypt street protest.
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons by Mona

Several Arab leaders have attempted to head off the protests sweeping the Middle East by promising economic incentives such as lower fuel prices and higher salaries. Jordan, Yemen, and Syria are among the countries offering new gestures to ease their citizens' financial burden.

However, some experts are warning that the planned financial boost will ultimately damage Arab economies and prolong instability.

Mideast economist Said Hirsch told the Associated Press that the planned subsidies mean “less money for much needed economic reform programs and required investments, which is what is ultimately needed across the region.”

The subsidies are being offered because they “are needed now for short term political survival,” he explained.

In addition to the problem of fewer reforms and investments, Arab countries are expected to face a drop in tourism due to the recent protests. Tourism is a major source of income in Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere.

Jordan in particular is facing a financial crisis, with tourism and foreign investment dropping as the country faces a record deficit and high unemployment.