The Corona Virus in the Middle East and North Africa: "Arab Exceptionalism," Once Again?
Les Dossiers du CERI
FR : Sciences Po - CERI
Covid-19, Middle East, North Africa
In these testing times some of the—rare—good news seems to come from the Middle East or, more precisely, from the Arabic speaking countries on the Southern shores of the Mediterranean and in the Arab Peninsula. Figures provided by Le Monde based on the now famous Johns Hopkins coronavirus statistics (as updated on 18 May 2020) show very low numbers of confirmed cases and deaths per population size compared to much of Europe or North America. By and large, the number of confirmed cases remains below 200, often below 100, and in a number of countries below 10 per 1 million inhabitants; the number of deaths almost everywhere remains below 10 for the same number of inhabitants. Respective figures for France are 2,126.9 and 419.6, for Spain 4,937.4 and 589.9, and for the United States 4,544.3 and 273.7. Advocates of “Arab exceptionalism” may feel vindicated all the more as this time the exception is not the deplorable large-scale absence of transitions from authoritarianism but the welcome protection of public health, perhaps even encouraged and facilitated by the former.