About nileelwardani

Nile Regina El Wardani, MPH, MPhil, Ph.D. writes about art and culture in the Middle East with an emphasis on Egypt. She has worked in arts production with many esteemed organizations including the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and La Jolla Music Society. She has worked for 27 years in Africa, the Middle East and the US in the fields of public health and development with an emphasis on human rights, reproductive health and women's empowerment. She received a Master in Public Health from UCLA and a PhD from the renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She was awarded the Middle East Award for Social Science Research for her research on policy, governance, human rights, and civil society. Nile has consulted for UNESCO, UNIFEM, WHO, and the Egyptian Ministries of Health, Education and Information. She has worked with bilateral donors including USAID, Finnida, Danida and Dutch Aid. As a professor and teacher she has taught at the American University in Cairo, UCSD, SDSU, UCLA, The Bishops School and study abroad programs in Europe.

Hidden Grandeur

First published by Obelisque Magazine, Cairo, Egypt. Click on photo below to read article.  I would like to express my apologies for not including the names of Miss Nihal El Mogi and Miss Naela El Mogi – the daughters of the late General Salah El Mogi – along with Mr. Yousef El Mogi, son of General Salah El Mogi – in this article. Hidden Grandeur

Egypt wins First Place for “International Peace and Security” According to the “Good Country Index”

The Good Country Index is a new way of looking at the world. It measures, as objectively as possible, what each country contributes to the common good of our world as a whole, and conversely what each country takes away. Within the index there are seven overarching categories and therefore seven possible gold medalists.

Many will be surprised to learn that Egypt has reason to be proud because Egypt is one of the Gold Medalists, ranking #1 for the category of International Peace and Security.

Why Egypt? On the whole, countries like Egypt that score well in this category International Peace and Security, do not export arms; they do not get directly involved in international violent conflicts (except in some cases as peacekeepers); they tend to have tight cyber-security, and they often contribute significantly to UN peacekeeping missions with troops and/or funds. Generally speaking such countries do very little harm overseas, rather than doing good. Still, the net effect is positive and this is what has earned Egypt the #1 spot in this particular category.

A composite overall score of all seven categories ranks the top 20 countries as Western developed countries. However, on the whole many of these Western countries rank very low in the category of International Peace and Security; France (92nd), United Kingdom (94th), the Netherlands (97th), Belgium (100th), Luxemburg (101st), Italy (102nd), Austria (104th), Canada (106th), Germany (109th), Sweden (111th), USA (114th) and Spain (120th).  On the contrary, many lower income developing countries rank highest in this category; Egypt (1st), Jordan (2nd), Tanzania (3rd), Lesotho (4th) and Uruguay (5th) as net creditors towards international peace and security.

The other six categories and the countries that rank number one are: 2.) United Kingdom in Science and Technology, 3) Belgium in Culture, 4) Germany for World Order, 5) Iceland for Planet and Climate, 6) Spain for Health and Wellbeing and 7) Ireland for Prosperity and Equality. See http://www.goodcountry.org

In the overall composite score Ireland ranks #1 making it the “Most Good Country” in the world according to the Index, a great acknowledgement for Ireland. Developing countries that rank high in overall composite scores include; Costa Rica (22nd), Malta (23rd) and Chile (24th). Kenya (26th) scores the highest overall composite in Africa/ME.

The Good Country Index isn’t interested in how well countries are doing internally nor is making any judgment. The index is looking at countries through a new and different lens than previous indices. It is interested in how much each country is doing for the world as a whole. The concept of the “Good Country” is all about encouraging populations and their governments to be more outward looking and to consider the international consequences of their national behavior, both positive and negative.

While there are numerous indices that measure country performance in isolation (WB, UNDP, IMF): whether it’s economic growth, stability, justice, transparency, good governance, productivity, democracy, freedom, or even happiness, it’s always measured per country. The Good Country Index tries to measure the global impacts of policies and behaviors that contribute to the “global commons”, and what they take away. Try thinking of “good” as a measure of how much a country contributes to the common good. So in this context “good” means the opposite of “selfish”, not the opposite of “bad”.

Author/researcher Simon Anholt and his team have used 35 reliable datasets, which track the way that most countries on earth behave. There are five datasets in each of seven large categories that cover the big issues. Using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organizations each country has a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between. The ‘Good Country’ concept and the Good Country Index were developed and funded by Simon Anholt. The Index was built by Dr Robert Govers with support from several organizations.

The author-researcher (Simon Anholt) of Good Country Index is posing important questions. Do countries exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one.

Anholt argues that this index forms a truer and more realistic global balance sheet than those that look at each country in isolation as if each sits on its own private planet.

Anholt holds that the aim is to start a global discussion about how countries can balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world, because this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of our planet.

He asserts that today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves.

“The biggest challenges facing humanity today are global and borderless: climate change, economic crisis, terrorism, drug trafficking, slavery, pandemics, poverty and inequality, population growth, food and water shortages, energy, species loss, human rights, migration and more. All of these problems stretch across national borders, so the only way they can be properly tackled is through international efforts” asserts Anholt.

“The trouble is most countries carry on behaving as if they were islands, focusing on developing domestic solutions to domestic problems. We’ll never get anywhere unless we start to change this habit.”

Anholt hopes that people the world over will use this information to urge their governments to look at the total impact of their policies. Anholt is somber “It is no longer enough to provide prosperity, growth, justice and peace to one population alone. The international consequences of every action must be considered. Economic growth is a good thing, but not if it’s at the cost of the environment or the wellbeing of another country or species. Competition between nations is increasingly looking like a dangerous idea. It’s up to us to tell these things to our politicians, and the Good Country Index can help get the message across.”

Note: All data and information herein is credited to Simon Anholt and Dr Robert Govers and can be found at http://www.goodcountry.org

Nile El Wardani, PhD is a professor at the American University in Cairo and can be reached at nelwardani@aucegypt.edu

 

 

Reflections on Work and Life in Egypt Today

Here in Egypt, despite the ongoing negative worldwide media reports, Egyptians continue to work, live, study and play.

At this moment I sit around a large rectangular table with twelve Egyptian managers (6 women, 6 men, age 35-55) who are engaged in their bi-weekly steering committee meeting at Ipsos Egypt, the country office of the 2nd largest research firm in the world. Ipsos, based in Paris, France, is located in 85 countries worldwide.

These twelve young Egyptian professionals are skilled, educated, empowered and committed to their work, families, company and country.

As the only American working with them, I can say without trepidation that they are amongst the top professionals I have had the pleasure of working with for the past 30 years of professional life.

Not only are they competent, precise, effective, professional and ethical in all their dealings, they are also supportive and kind to each other. There is no semblance of back-stabbing or negative competition. It is a real pleasure to labor with them and I feel grateful to find myself in such a healthy and positive work environment. They get the work done, creatively and professionally and they laugh and smile at the same time.

Ipsos Egypt offices are located on the Corniche El Nil in Maadi, Cairo. As we participate in our steering meeting, we see the Nile River below us and the green banks of river on the other side remind us each moment of the ageless dignity and life in this marvelous country. We can see the farmers working in their fields, the donkeys carrying their loads, the water buffalo turning around the water pumps and again we are reminded that Egyptians continue to work, taking care of their small piece of this magnificent country, whether they be a corporate manager or a farmer, despite the turmoil Egypt finds itself in.

There is something so very real and romantic about this scene….something that the world news media never begins to understand or capture or relay. There is hope. There is resolve. There is endless love for this land, this people, this country. Something I have not seen or felt, quite like this, in any other country.

I see this hope and resolve and tenacity in my fellow Egyptian Ipsos colleagues and I see it in the farmers toiling on the banks of the Nile, outside our Ipsos window.

No wonder that Egypt was rated 4th most positive economic outlook, amongst 25 countries worldwide in the Ipsos Global Advisor, for the next six months.

The Ipsos Global Economic Pulse (a monthly syndicated survey of 25 countries) welcomed the addition of a new country: Egypt in Jan. 2014. Egyptians reflect notably positive assessments of their national economy (64%), raising the global aggregate two points (39%) and the regional aggregate in the Middle East and Africa three points (54%). More than half (54%) of Egyptians rate the economy in their local area to be ‘good’ while six in ten (61%) expect it to be ‘stronger’ in the next six months. After three months without change, the average global economic assessment of national economies surveyed in 25 countries inches higher this month with the inclusion of Egypt in the global survey. When asked to consider the current economic situation in their country, 39% of global citizens rate it to be ‘good.’ Without Egypt, the figure remains unchanged at 37%.

Saudi Arabia (86%) is the country with the highest proportion of respondents rating their national economies to be ‘good,’ followed by Germany (75%), Sweden (72%), Egypt (64%), China (63%), and Australia (59%). On the other end of the spectrum, a small minority (5%) of those in Italy rate their national economies as ‘good’, followed by Spain (7%), France (8%), South Korea (17%) and Hungary (17%).

So lift up your heads Ipsos colleagues because we have something to smile about.