Resisting the Arab Spring: Egypt, Tunisia, and the Specter of Saudi Arabia

Despite the euphoria that accompanied the Arab Spring, a series of recent setbacks has fueled skepticism that the revolutions will lead to democracy any time in the foreseeable future. Two Open Society Fellows consider the implications of these changes for the region and the prospects for a restoration of electoral democracy in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as the growing but poorly understood role of Saudi Arabia.

Asef Bayat discusses the potential for the establishment of a “post-Islamist democracy” in Egypt and Tunisia and the probable role of what he calls “non-movements” of the poor, women, and youth. Fellow Madawi Al-Rasheed, an expert on Saudi politics and society, weighs the significance of recent protests in the Kingdom by women, internet activists, and the Shia minority. 


  • Asef Bayat, Open Society Fellow and professor of Sociology and Middle East Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East
  • Madawi Al-Rasheed, Open Society Fellow, visiting professor at the Middle East Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and author of A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics and Religion in Saudi Arabia
  • Anthony Richter, Director of the Open Society Middle East and North Africa Initiatives, and Associate Director of the Open Society Foundations (moderator)
Date: December 6, 2013
Time: 10:30 a.m.12:00 p.m.
Asef Bayat, Anthony Richter, and Madawi al-Rasheed