Saudi Arabia and UAE pledge $8bn to Egyptian Economy

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $8bn to help prop up the high problematic and deeply troubled Egyptian Economy.  On the face of it, this is a gesture aimed at providing a mix of cash, central bank deposits and oil products, as the new Egyptian administration gets to grips with what a declining currency and potential foreign exchange reserves crisis.

Yet, a deeper analysis tells us something much more fundamental about how regional political power is shaping up and the regional impact of Egypt’s second revolution.  The commitment comes as the UAE and Saudi Arabia are pleased with the toppling of Morsi and the muslim brotherhood.  Not only is it a demonstration of the potential consequences of removing authoritarian regimes to their own populous, but a clear move to counter Qatar who backed the Morsi regime.  Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE offered billions back in February 2011, but ultimately it was Qatar who played the role of financing Morsi’s government. This informs our understanding of how whilst there are dividing lines emerging within domestic settings, these alliances can draw on the more regional divides of power.  To understand the Arab Spring, therefore is as much about understanding the inside of the state as the regional interplay.

English: Map of the Arabic Peninsula, displayi...

English: Map of the Arabic Peninsula, displaying Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. (dutch version) Nederlands: Kaart van het Arabisch Schiereiland. De afgebeelde landen zijn Saoedi-Arabië, Jemen, Oman, Verenigde Arabische Emiraten, Katar, Koeweit, Irak, Syrië, Jordanië, Libanon, Israël en Egypte. (nederlandse versie) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Viber in Saudi Arabia: The politics of social media and communication

Flag ~ Saudi Arabia

Flag ~ Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: erjkprunczyk)

Change is clearly happening in Saudi Arabia. In the past authorities have sought to try people who use social media, to object to government authority, quietly and under the radar of the population as a whole.  However, over the past few months these trials are being conducted more widely and in the open.  First thoughts should be that this is excellent news for the judicial system, and a commitment to openness.  However, these trials should be seen more as a deterrent – more like public beheadings than a commitment to opening the political system.  They are a demonstration of how worried Saudi authorities are about the Arab Spring.

It is in the same light that Viber, the communications app (covered in the last edition of IST), has been blocked by Saudi authorities (it has also been blocked in Iran and the UAE). Viber are now attempting to restore at least a partial service, within weeks, to their 10 million Saudi users. The benefits of viber are that it offers a private communication system in an authoritarian state.  But, its closure marks another line in the sand put down by the Saudi’s that want access to their populations communications systems. Something that it appears the US and UK enjoy through the PRISM system. As the new politics of communications unfolds, in the era of Big Data, it appears that the tension lines are between a triad of Liberty, Privacy & Security.  That is the debate in the Middle East as well as in the US and Europe.

English: Tomb of Muhammad in Madinah, Saudi Arabia

English: Tomb of Muhammad in Madinah, Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)