Writing in the UK’s The Spectator, the Peruvian economist and government advisor Hernando de Soto estimates that 380 million Arabs derive most of their income from the ‘shadow economy’.
Research undertaken by de Soto’s Institute for Liberty & Democracy suggests that the principal dynamic behind the Arab Spring was not political protest but a desire among the excluded and landless for economic opportunity. Countries like Egypt have highly bureaucratic and closed economies which continue to leave most small scale entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses, and vulnerable to corruption. de Soto argues that if the West really wants to transform the Arab world, countries like the UK should make property rights and the rule of law a condition of their aid programmes.
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