Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Adeel Malik

Founding contributors

Adeel Malik
Oxford University

Professor Adeel Malik is Globe Fellow in the Economies of Muslim Societies at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and an associate Professor in Development Economics at the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development. He received his doctorate in economics from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Professor Malik specializes in the study of Middle Eastern political economy. His ongoing research focuses on the political economy of authoritarianism in Muslim societies. His research articles have been published in reputed journals, such as the Journal of European Economic Association, European Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Development Economics, Oxford Economic Papers, World Development, Review of International Political Economy, and Modern Asian Studies. Professor Malik’s most recent contribution to the field is a co-edited volume, Crony Capitalism in the Middle East: Business and Politics from Liberalization to the Arab Spring, published by Oxford University Press in 2019. His research has featured in the CNN, Al Jazeera, Financial Times, the New York Times, Washington Post, Project Syndicate, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs.

Content by this Author

A tale of two Middle Easts

Higher oil prices, by softening budget constraints for energy producers in the Middle East and North Africa, may reduce the incentive for major economic reforms. But as this Project Syndicate column explains, the region’s oil importers, facing renewed risks to social and political stability from rising costs, must contend with much greater challenges.

How foreign powers could break Lebanon’s gridlock

It is well known that factionalism and corruption have long stood in the way of the kinds of structural reforms that Lebanon needs. But as this Project Syndicate column argues, an overlooked problem is the inaction of foreign powers that could easily compel domestic changes if they had the right incentives.

Lebanon: sectarianism and cronyism stifle economic reform

How did Lebanon’s economy collapse – and what happens now? This column from The Washington Post outlines what you need to know.

Shelter from the Middle East’s perfect storm

The Covid-19 pandemic threatens every region in the world, none more so than the Middle East. This Project Syndicate column argues that with oil prices plummeting and public health costs poised to skyrocket, the Arab world must use this tragic occasion to forge a new cooperative regional order.

The politics of trade protection: evidence from Mubarak’s Egypt

Trade liberalisation in many developing countries has been pursued selectively, with a general reduction in tariffs counterbalanced by growing reliance on non-tariff measures. This column reports research on the political economy of such selective trade reform in Mubarak-era Egypt. The evidence shows that sectors with a greater concentration of politically connected business ‘cronies’ enjoyed systematically higher levels of non-tariff protection.

Most read

Sustaining entrepreneurship: lessons from Iran

Does entrepreneurial activity naturally return to long-term average levels after big economic disturbances? This column presents new evidence from Iran on trends in entrepreneurship among various categories of firm size, sector and location – and suggests policies that could be effective in promoting entrepreneurial activities.

Financial constraints on small firms’ growth: pandemic lessons from Iran

How does access to finance affect the growth of small businesses? This column presents new evidence from Iran before and during the Covid-19 pandemic – and lessons learned by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Happiness in the Arab world: should we be concerned?

Several Arab countries have low rankings in the latest comparative assessment of average happiness across the world. But as this column explains, the average is not a reliable summary statistic when applied to ordinal data. The evidence from more robust analysis of socio-economic inequality in happiness suggests that policy-makers should be less concerned about happiness indicators than the core development objective of more equitable social conditions for citizens.

The economics of Israeli war aims and strategies

Israel’s response to last October’s Hamas attack has led to widespread death and destruction. This column outlines the impact thus far, including the effects on food scarcity, migration and the Palestinian economy in both Gaza and the West Bank.

It’s too early to tell what happened to the Arab Spring

Did the Arab Spring fail? This column presents a view the consensus view from ERF’s recent annual conference in Morocco: careful analysis of the fundamental drivers of democratic transitions suggests that it’s too early to tell.

Arab regional cooperation in a fragmenting world

As globalisation stalls, regionalisation has emerged as an alternative. This column argues that Arab countries need to face the new realities and move decisively towards greater mutual cooperation. A regional integration agenda that also supports domestic reforms could be an important source of growth, jobs and stability.

Gender differences in business record-keeping and planning in Iraq

Only one in every ten informal businesses in Iraq is led by a woman. Yet as research summarised in this column reveals, those businesses are more likely to set budgets and sales targets, and to keep business records. This may be evidence of the role of social exclusion in motivating greater reliance on the formal bureaucratic system.

Self-employment in MENA: the role of religiosity and personal values

How important are individual’s values and beliefs in influencing the likelihood that they will embrace the responsibilities, risks and entrepreneurial challenge of self-employment? This column presents evidence from 12 countries in the Middle East and North African region on the roles of people’s religiosity and sense of personal agency in their labour market choices.

Reformed foreign ownership rules in UAE: the impact on business entry

In an effort to stimulate economic growth and diversify the economy, the government of the United Arab Emirates has recently implemented regulatory reform that allows 100% foreign ownership of companies operating in the country. This column examines the implications of the reform for entry of new firms in Dubai, using unique data on new business licences in the emirate.

Conflict and debt in the Middle East and North Africa

With the global economy is in its third year of deceleration amid declining inflation and oil prices, the Middle East and North Africa grew by just 1.9% in 2023, with a forecast for growth in 2024 at 2.7%. In addition to heightened uncertainty brought on by the conflict centred in Gaza, many countries in the region are also grappling with pre-existing vulnerabilities, including rising debt levels. This column summarises a new report that unpacks the nature of debt in MENA – and explains the critical importance of keeping rising debt stocks in check.