Discordant Egyptian and Saudi Visions 2030 and the Forgotten Quest for Mena Economic Integration
El-Gamal, Mahmoud A.
The Arab Spring brought about, simultaneously, an oil-price geopolitical premium for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries and economic hardships for Egypt and other countries of the Spring. Over the past five years, GCC countries offered financial support to soften the economic blow to the Egyptian economy. However, an envisioned major injection of investments to ensure long-term economic success did not materialize due to a combination of lower oil prices—which forced Saudi Arabia, in particular, to worry about its own long-term economic success—and the inability of successive Egyptian regimes to implement sufficient reforms to reassure prospective investors. Minimal financial support to Egypt has continued, mainly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Recent funding from those countries is now linked to an expected IMF loan that would signal the Egyptian government’s commitment to economic reform. Unfortunately, long-term Visions 2030 economic plans for Egypt and Saudi Arabia were developed by each country in isolation of its neighborhood, despite economic and political conditions that are similar to the 1990s, when many viewed regional integration as the way forward for the region’s economies. This paper discusses the shortcomings of these narrow national visions and argues for a comprehensive framework for regional economic integration, wherein each country’s vision is harmonized with those of its neighbors.