International report

Ten years after the Arab Spring revolution, what have ordinary Egyptians gained?

Audio 06:34
Egyptians use their mobile phones to record celebrations on 12 February 2011 in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Egyptians use their mobile phones to record celebrations on 12 February 2011 in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Mohammed ABED AFP/File

A decade ago, Egyptians followed their neighbours in Tunisia, Syria and Bahrain onto the streets to call for social, political and economic reforms. In Egypt, protestors asked for bread, increased freedom, and social justice. What remains of their hopes, ten years after the revolution?

Advertising

What started as a peaceful protest movement rapidly deteriorated.

According to official statistics, demonstrations across Egypt, resulted in more than 500 deaths and over 6000 injuries among protesters.

Tahsin Baker is a photojournalist in Cairo. Baker describes the first moments of the 25 January revolution.

"Personnel of the central security forces began beating protesters with batons and I recorded their actions with my own camera. On that particular day, I remember that the security forces arrested the launcher of the Khaled Said page on Facebook, Wael Ghonaim, right in front of the Egyptian journalists' trade union building. 

"Actually, clashes between protesters and security personnel, erupted on 26 January. On the following day, the situation calmed down, while on 28 January, the country saw the largest demonstrations."

Frustration and disappointment

Zainab Ali is now a 37-year-old mother. She was one of the early protesters. Zainab says her motive for joining the revolution was simply her love for her country.

She is disappointed by the outcome.

"The idea is that all the regimes that came to power after the revolution, had not applied the three main slogans of the revolution; bread, freedom and social justice. Egypt has remained unchanged, ten years after the revolution, unfortunately."

Official Economic indicators suggest that around 30 percent of the Egyptian public live under the poverty line, with the country having taken on massive foreign loans that have gone so far to finance projects such as the second Suez Canal, some housing, agricultural reforms, bridges and a civil nuclear facility.

Projects doing little to help the people

Dr. Wael Alnahhas is an economic expert. He says that Egypt's 105 million residents have not benefited from the state's projects.

"We have not felt any improvement. Possibly, only 10 percent of the Egyptian public have benefited from the current projects, such as infrastructure and others. For instance, up to this moment, we are using the same power supplies, prior to 2011, as we have not benefited from the increased 30,000 Mega Watts.

"We have not either  benefited from agricultural lands reclamation and the grain storehouses. Up to this moment, the country is relying on revenues from the tourism sector that existed  prior to the 2011 revolution."

Dr. Alnahhas adds that Egypt's foreign loans could stand at 180 billion US dollars by the end of this year. He believes that what is needed is engaging in productive projects at the industrial, agricultural and technological levels.

 

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning