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الموقع تحت الإنشاء

النسخة التجريبية من موقع النهضة العربية (أرض)

ARDD organizes regional discussion session Integrated Arab institutions needed to combat the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Arab world


The year 2020 ended, but numerous crises still dominate the Arab world; most prominent: the ethics crisis, a profound identity crisis, and many social, political, and economic crises, according to Professor Zaid Eyadat, chairman of the Board and facilitator of the online discussion session held by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) under the title “The Ramifications of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Arab Region”. The professor also raised questions like “how has the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world? Has it magnified our economic, social, health, and other differences?” questions raised by. in the session that was held on 29 December 2020, as part of a series of ARDD-organized regional discussions and included intellectuals and experts like Dr. Ali Oumlil from Morocco, Professor Hassan Nafaa from Egypt, Professor Seyidould Bah from Mauritania and Dr. Yusuf Mansur from Jordan.

Nafaa said the crisis is global, and not limited to the Arab world, and has tremendous ramifications on the entire world, with the effects differing from one country to another. According to him, “research about its impact and ways to eliminate it with a vaccine continues apace.” Globally, the recession in North America, China and Europe affected the economy of the entire world, including that in the Arab world, which has suffered the onslaught of a series of crises over the last few years, especially in light of the ongoing Arab Spring that has not been yet successfully handled. Nafaa noted the different responses different Arab states had to the pandemic, each according to its political system, population, wealth and reserves, and domestic and foreign affairs. Gulf countries, for example, were quick to respond and provide vaccinations and economic support to residents, while overpopulated countries like Egypt, Algeria and others witnessed an interruption of tourist activities, economic crisis, weak health infrastructure, and in some countries, increased oppressive practices. In countries at war or lacking political stability, the crisis magnified the peoples’ suffering. The Arab League failed to invest in the opportunity presented by the pandemic to achieve Arab unity; its response only highlighted its weak position.

Oumlil also believes the pandemic should have been seen as an opportunity to take action, especially now that vaccines have been found to fight the virus. He said that this pandemic is different from others that preceded it, as it is “it took place in the time of globalization, revealing many issues, such as the development model, the new liberal state model that is based on economy and liberal democracy, and the huge gaps not only among countries, but among people in the same country in terms of access to education, health, and others”.He stressed that in order to address unemployment, the liberal model must remain; however, a new model is bound to take over and reduce the gap between people, countries, regions, economies and opportunities, one based on the socialist state model and that has at its core humans and the needs of the citizens, rather than the economy. He pointed to the political and economic role the pandemic played, as governments’ legitimacy is being decided by their ability to respond to the pandemic and build trust with its people.

The pandemic hit the Arab region amid consecutive economic and political crises. Reviewing the number of cases of infection and deaths due to the pandemic, both at Arab and international levels, Mansur said: “In our Arab societies, the biggest losers are the vulnerable groups of immigrants, refugees and guest workers who are mostly overlooked in official statistics.” He said that many sectors witnessed regression, such as transport, education, tourism, and real estate. Arab countries lost big sums of their gross domestic product due to the pandemic. According to statistics, the Arab world, which makes up 5% of the world, will have 14% of the world’s poor, which is alarming. Unemployment will increase from 16 million in 2019, to 17.7 million in 2020, and the impact of the pandemic is expected to last for years to come. He suggested a change in the economic approach, from focusing on productivity to focusing on economic flexibility and sustainability, which is practiced globally to deal with crises and the lessons learned from the pandemic

Abah talked about issues like the general crisis of state administration, financial and economic resource management, and the crisis of social engineering such as infrastructure, educational systems and civil society. Modern Arab states may have been working on developing and modernizing the society, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore all previous crises. He said: “Arab states failed to live up to the claim that they enjoy legitimacy and protect citizens’ health and safety. The Arab world is now facing a huge challenge regarding political engineering and state administration on which social and economic reform depends.”

He said that the Arab system and crises must be dealt with through a holistic vision, considering its intersectionality, internal failures, social structures, and social engineering, and the foreign intervention factor whenever looking for answers.

Participants stressed the need for Arab integration, institutionally, and particularly in the medical sector, to combat the ramification of the COVID-19 pandemic, develop a social system that answers to the human institutional need that applies to the whole world, work on flexible economies and sustainability and pay attention to the political and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the Arab world.