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Egypt’s Seventh Millennium

Will one of the world’s oldest cultures make it in the “new” economy?

June 7, 2002

Will one of the world's oldest cultures make it in the "new" economy?

Egypt’s culture is among the world’s oldest. Under its pharaohs, Egypt was one of the first world powers — and the world’s main grain producer. But that golden age was back in biblical times. Cynics might say that times have not been so good since. Yet, Egypt is still a major player in the Arab world. Our new Globalist Factsheet examines where the country stands now.

What is the average income in Egypt?

As of January 2002, Egypt’s nearly 70 million people still earn on average only about $1,300 a year — or under $4 a day.

(Washington Post)

And who is the country’s biggest employer?

As of 2001, one-third of the Egyptian work force still holds government jobs, which pay about $71 per month.

(New York Times)

What distinguishes Egypt from other Arab nations?

As of 2001, Egypt — with its 70 million people — is the Arab world’s most populous state.

(New York Times)

Is the population still growing?

As of 2001, Egypt has added more than a million people a year to the world population.

(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

How big are Egypt’s cities?

Cairo, with 17 million inhabitants — and Alexandria, with four million — are the first and third-largest cities on the African continent. Lagos, Nigeria ranks second with 13 million inhabitants.

(New York Times)

In what way does Egypt’s Islamic faith put a stress on the economy?

Egyptians spend an estimated $1 billion on participating in the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. To stem a full-fledged run on the Egyptian pound, President Hosni Mubarak discouraged his country’s worshippers from going to Saudi Arabia in 2002.

(Washington Post)

What is Egypt’s biggest export?

Services accounted for 64% of Egypt’s total exports in 1998 — compared to 26% of total exports in the United States.


Why is that?

Between 1997 and 1998, international tourism to Egypt generated $2.9 billion in export earnings. This accounted to 22% of Egypt’s total export earnings and 35% of services exports — or 4.3% of GDP.

(Egyptian Center for Economic Studies)

What is peculiar about Egypt’s stock market?

As of 2002, over 1,000 companies are listed on Egypt’s Cairo and Alexandria stock exchanges. But 800 of them are not traded.

(Financial Times)

Why was tiny Israel able to defeat bigger Egypt back in 1973?

Egypt — with a population of 70 million — has an army of nearly half a million people, while Israel — with 5.9 million people — has an army of about 600,000 soldiers.

(Washington Post)

Did Egypt win the peace?

Due largely to its peace with Israel in 1979, Egypt has received more than $55 billion in aid over the past 25 years from Western governments, international lending organizations and oil-rich Arab neighbors. Only India has received more foreign aid.

(Washington Post)

How is Egypt linked to the terrorist attacks?

As of October 2001, seven of the 22 “most wanted” terrorists of the U.S. government are Egyptians — more than any other country in the world.

(Washington Post)

But how has Egypt been hit by the same forces?

Back in 1981, Egypt’s President Anwar al-Sadat was killed by Islamic Jihad, the same organization that Mr. Osama bin Laden’s deputy Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri now heads.


What is disappointing about Egypt’s economic record?

Back in the 1950s, per capita income in Egypt matched that of South Korea. By February 2002, it had fallen to one-fifth of South Korea’s level.

(Financial Times)

What adds to Egypt’s technology gap?

Only since 1998 are Egyptians allowed to have a second telephone line.


And finally, how does Egypt benefit from its relationship with the United States?

As of 2001, Egypt is the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving $2.1 billion each year. That is more than 1% of the country’s GDP — and about $30 for each man, woman and child in Egypt.

(New York Times)