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The Business of Politics

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Abstract

The increasing role of business in politics has become a global phenomenon, including in the Arab world. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri was a prominent businessmen.1 In Kuwait businessmen have long enjoyed a striking hegemony as they rose to high positions in government,2 and in Egypt the term Ragal Al-‘Amal (businessmen) had already acquired a slightly seedy air by the mid-1980s. Currently, Egyptian entrepreneurs play an important role in Egyptian politics and have gradually infiltrated the NDP and the cabinet ministries.

Keywords

Public Sector Economic Reform Parliamentary Election Business Elite Political Liberalization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 6.
    For a useful overview of the “Neomercantilists,” see Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: The Free Press, 1995)Google Scholar
  2. James Fallows, Looking at the Sun: The Rise of the New East Asian Economic and Political System (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994).Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    An eloquent example of Sadat’s reluctance to change the regime’s outlook is the statement deputy prime minister ‘Abd Al-Razzak ‘Abd Al-Maggid made at the second NDP congress in October 1981, a few days before Sadat’s assassination, in which he announced the NDP’s definition of socialism and the role of the public sector: “It is essential to manage the public sector with a capitalist mentality and the private sector with a socialist mentality.” See Wahba Mourad Magdi, The Role of the State in the Egyptian Economy: 1945–1981 (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1994): 179.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Harik Iliya, “Privatization: The Issue, the Prospects, and the Fears,” 1–23, in Harik, Iliya and Sullivan, Denis (eds.) Privatization and Liberalization in the Middle East (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992): 9.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Americans have aligned themselves with and supported the rising classes of the Sadat regime. Both the “open door” policy launched by Sadat in 1974 and American aid have served to create and strengthen new socioeconomically and politically powerful groups. The economic interests of these classes and Western capital are identical. The United States would like to market its goods in Egypt in preparation for further investment while the new class of traders and commercial agents are the axis around which such policies can be made possible. Moreover, this group’s increasing political power is indicative of the relationship of Western capitalism to the new Egyptian socioeconomic structure and has widespread implications for the country’s development. For a useful analysis of the United States’ reaction to Sadat’s infitah, see Zaalouk, Malak, Power, Class and Foreign Capital in Egypt: The Rise of the New Bourgeoise (London, New Jersey: Zed Books, 1989): 11.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Zaki, Moheb, Egyptian Business Elites: Their Visions & Investment Behaviour, (Cairo: Arab Center for Development and Research, 1999), 84–87.Google Scholar
  7. 63.
    Richard Moench, “The May 1984 Elections in Egypt and the Question of Egypt’s Stability,” in Linda Layne, Elections in the Middle East, Implications of Recent Trends (Boulder and London: Westview Press, 1987): 47–85Google Scholar
  8. 64.
    Richard H. Adams, Jr., Development and Social Change in Rural Egypt (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, First Edition 1986): 150.Google Scholar
  9. 94.
    For a scholarly discussion about the role of the European bourgeoisie in establishing the industrial revolution, capitalism, and democracy, with a comparison to the role of the Arab bourgeoisie in those three occurrences, see Rayan Turner, Capitalism and Class in the Middle East: Theories of Social Change and Economic Development (London: Heinemann Educational Books, First Published, 1984): 51–62.Google Scholar
  10. 95.
    “Democratization,” according to Hudson, “is the process through which the exercise of political power by the state becomes less arbitrary and exclusive.” Some scholars distinguish between liberalization and democratization. “Liberalization refers to a change which limits the power of the state to intervene in the life of people and allows some freer expression and oppositional activities. Democratization refers more specifically to the process of change toward freer elections, popular participation, and freedom of the masses; it is a change toward democratic rule. Ghadbian Najib, Democratization and the Islamist Challenge in the Arab World (London: Westview Press, 1997): 4–5.Google Scholar
  11. 96.
    Monshipouri Mahmood, Democratization, Liberalization & Human Rights in the Third World (Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995): 12–13.Google Scholar
  12. 101.
    Mohamed Al-Sayyid S’aid, “Businessmen: Democracy and Human Rights” (in Arabic), (Cairo: Cairo Center for Human-rights Studies, 2001), 100–101.Google Scholar

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© Alaa Al-Din Arafat 2009

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