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.

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Egypt’s care economy needs to address deteriorating working conditions

A robust and high-quality care economy is critical for supporting women’s employment – as both an employer of women and a mechanism for redistributing unpaid care work to the market. Yet in Egypt, despite national goals of expanding care services, employment in the sector has been shrinking, while becoming increasingly privatised. As this column reports, care jobs have also experienced worsening conditions of work, including reduced formality and the emergence of a pay penalty for care workers.

Unemployment among young women in GCC countries

The average rate of unemployment among young women in the high-income countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is far higher than the equivalent for young men. This column reports new evidence on the extent to which flexible labour markets, in the context of a generous social contract, can reduce female youth unemployment rates in the region.

Boosting trade through flexible rules of origin in preferential agreements

Rules of origin are critical components of preferential trade agreements designed to stop products coming in under insufficient transformation or through the partner that applies the lowest tariff. But in practice, these rules are often needlessly complex, undoing the benefits of market access associated with trade agreements. This column reports research showing that the adoption of more flexible product-specific rules of origin within preferential agreements would give a significant boost to global trade.

Challenges of GCC investment in the energy transition

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have identified the energy transition as a crucial area of growth and are investing heavily in a diverse array of projects. However, as this column explains, the region faces a number of challenges in making a success of these investments, most notably its current dependence on fossil fuels, a lack of infrastructure and technical expertise, the high upfront costs, and geopolitical tensions.

The decline of social insurance in Egypt: directions for reform

The longstanding challenge for the Egyptian economy of providing its workers with decent, formal, socially insured jobs has become even more difficult. As this column explains, informality has been rising rather than falling, with a substantial reduction in social insurance coverage for the employed since the late 1990s. Reforms are needed to reverse this decline.

Social insurance in Egypt: between costly formality and legal informality

The rates of participation of Egyptian workers in contributory social insurance has continued to decline, even during times when the country has had positive annual growth rates. This column discusses key institutional elements in the design of the current social insurance scheme that have contributed to the growing gap in coverage, particularly the scheme’s cost and eligibility requirements.

Jordan: navigating through multiple crises

Jordan’s real GDP per capita is today no higher than it was 40 years ago. While external factors have undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the country’s economic outcomes, weak macroeconomic management and low public spending on investment and the social sectors have also played a substantial role. This column explores what can be done to reduce high public debt, accelerate private sector development and enhance social outcomes.

Making trade agreements more environmentally friendly in the MENA region

Trade policy can play a significant role in efforts to decarbonise the global economy. But as this column explains, there need to be more environmental provisions in trade agreements in which developing countries participate – and stronger legal enforcement of those provisions at the international level. The MENA region would benefit substantially from such changes.

Egypt and Iraq: amenities, environmental quality and taste for revolution

The Middle East and North Africa is a region marked by significant political turbulence. This column explores a novel dimension of these upheavals: the relationship between people’s satisfaction with, on one hand, the amenities to which they have access and the environmental quality they experience, and, on the other hand, their inclination towards revolutionary actions. The data come from the World Value Survey collected in 2018 in Egypt and Iraq.

Iran’s globalisation and Saudi Arabia’s defence budget

How might Saudi Arabia react to Iran's renewed participation in global trade and investment? This column explores whether the expanding economic globalisation of Iran, following the lifting of nuclear sanctions, could yield a peace dividend for Saudi Arabia, consequently dampening the Middle East arms competition. These issues have attracted increased attention in recent times, notably after a pivotal agreement between the two countries in March 2023, marking the resumption of their political ties after a seven-year conflict.