Nature Reserves and Authoritarian Rule in Egypt: Embedded Autonomy Revisited


This article explores how Egypt's system of authoritarian rule initially fostered and subsequently undermined nature conservation efforts. During the 1990s, international donors and local scientists established a well-managed network of nature preserves in the South Sinai region of Egypt. The concentration of state authority in a few executive institutions, such as the military and centrally appointed provincial governors, facilitated the creation of an effective management regime. However, these achievements have come under threat. Executive institutions charged with tourism development have challenged the authority of the protected areas division, and the capacity of the protected areas network has been undermined through systematic underinvestment and diversion of park revenues. In addition, local Bedouin communities that benefited from effectively managed parks remain politically marginalized. Although reformers in the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East can build environmental capacities, some of the economic and political logics associated with authoritarian rule limit the sustainability of these endeavors.


Political Science

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The Journal of Environment & Development



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