Egypt: An Economic and Social Analysis

Egypt: An Economic and Social Analysis

Egypt: An Economic and Social Analysis

Egypt: An Economic and Social Analysis

Excerpt

OF the many works written on Egypt, almost all have been mainly concerned with Anglo-Egyptian relations. The object of this book is different: to describe the economic and social structure of Egypt up to the outbreak of the second world war. Hence political issues have been touched upon only in so far as they affect economic and social problems, and international questions have been almost completely neglected.

Egypt's problems deserve study not only because of their intrinsic interest but also because of the unique position that country occupies in the Arab and Islamic world. For Egypt is the undoubted leader of the chain of Arab countries stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian hills and at the same time is looked to as the fountain of orthodoxy by some two hundred and fifty million Moslems. Yet no attempt has been made since the last war to give a comprehensive view of the country's structure.

The difficulties of such an attempt are great and it is hoped that some of the shortcomings of this work will be attributed to them. For if certain sectors of the national economy, such as foreign trade and cotton, have been very thoroughly mapped out, others, notably industry and labour problems, have received very little attention. My sincerest hope is that sufficient research will be carried out in the next few years to render necessary the complete rewriting of this book, which will have served its purpose if it contributes in any way to stimulate such research.

It is impossible even to mention, much less to summarize, the many events which have taken place since this manuscript was finished, in March 1943. Three tendencies, however, deserve attention.

First the persistent inflation, due to the continued expenditure by British and Allied troops in Egypt and to the shortage of imports. By the spring of 1945 the Cost of Living Index had risen to nearly four times its pre-war level, causing much hardship to fixed income earners. At the same time Egypt's sterling balances have risen to about £300 million. It is now being realized that these balances will not be fully available for the purchase of goods, even within the sterling area, for some time . . .

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