The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly spread around the globe and put almost all countries under immense pressure. While the corona virus itself does not distinguish between rich and poor concerning its infectivity, the consequences differ significantly: Financially sound societies can afford a shutdown of their economy to enable people isolating themselves, while citizens in poorer countries miss the luxury of not going to work each day. Keeping kids out of school for months can be balanced (at least partly) through excellent learning conditions at home, but might seriously hamper children’s learning progress when technological conditions and educational support are meagre, if not non-existent.
The book project ‘Arab Countries and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact, Implications, and Future Prospects’ and its preceding author workshop aim at analyzing the impact that the pandemic has had on Arab societies by questioning how the unprecedent and far-reaching crisis affected social, political, economic, and cultural life.
With its distinct homogeneous and heterogeneous characteristics, the Arab region offers almost perfect conditions for a comparative scholarly analysis of both similarities and differences. While Arab countries are similar in terms of language and majority religion, their differences are equally striking: Socioeconomic performances differ markedly and relatively democratic countries do border some of the world’s strictest autocracies.
As such, Arab countries offer prime material for analyzing how the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly brought to light major injustices on the global scale as well as the regional or even national level. At the same time, while the workshop’s geographic focus is on the Middle East and North Africa, the arguments advanced in its individual contributions are much more far-reaching and teach us lessons that equally apply in other parts of the world.
The interdisciplinary and transnational workshop is jointly organized by AGYA members Zeina Hobaika, Lena-Maria Möller, and Jan Claudius Völkel and is open to engaged listeners.
This is a project of the AGYA Working Group Transformation.