Stephan Roll

Egypt’s Business Elite after Mubarak

A Powerful Player between Generals and Brotherhood

SWP Research Paper 2013/RP 08, September 2013, 28 Pages



Alongside economic wealth, Egypt’s business elite attained notable political influence under Mubarak. And after Mubarak’s fall in February 2011 Egyptian entrepreneurs very successfully defended their power, profiting from the laxness of fraud and corruption investigations after the armed forces took power. The same course was continued by the Muslim Brotherhood under the presidency of Mohammed Morsi in 2012/2013. More broadly, the Brotherhood’s policies closely echoed Mubarak’s pro-business economic policy. But its attempt to co-opt the business elite failed, as did the efforts of certain Brotherhood members to seriously expand their own business activities. Many of the mostly secular-leaning top entrepreneurs were deeply mistrustful of the Brotherhood and supported its adversaries by funding opposition parties and politicians and via private-sector media. These activities contributed to the Brotherhood’s failure to consolidate the power it gained through elections.

The armed forces’ removal of Morsi in July 2013 could permit the influence of big business on the political process to increase still further. Regardless of current political turbulence, Germany and the European Union should therefore shape their long-term cooperation with Egypt so as to counteract the foreseeable negative consequences of such influence by supporting both the creation of transparency and competition in the Egyptian economy and the establishment of a more equitable tax system.