Transition from Autocracy to Democracy in the Arab World

Despite notable socioeconomic development, governance in the Arab world continues to be characterized by a democracy deficit and long-lived authoritarian regimes. The first phase of the project, Democracy and Development in the Arab World (103807), examined in depth the factors that explain the persistence of the democracy deficit in the Arab World. The major finding of the research is that while "modernity" remains an important determinant of democracy in the long run, it fails to explain the Arab democracy deficit relative to other regions. Rather, it is oil and conflicts - and the interactions between them - that appear to explain it, as well as country-specific factors such as historical legacies, fear of fundamentalist groups, and co-option of business and (some) intellectual elites by the state.

This grant will allow the researchers to address the critical question of how to effect a transition to democracy using a cross-country comparative approach. The research results will be discussed with decision-makers, civil society organizations and other stakeholders, and inform debate on how to improve democratic processes in the Arab world.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

End Date

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


42 months

IDRC Officer

El-Rifai, Roula

Total funding

CA$ 288,500


Middle East, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Ibrahim el-Badawi

Project Leader

Samir Makdisi

Project Leader

Ibrahim el-Badawi

Project Leader

Samir Makdisi


American University of Beirut

Institution Country


Institution Website