Why have none of the twenty-two Arab countries participated in the worldwide move toward liberalization? In his important but frustrating book Over-Stating the Arab State, Nazih Ayubi argues that, paradoxically, some Arab states might move toward liberalization—if they were strong enough to overcome the political and cultural forces that favor authoritarianism.

Timur Kuran is Professor of Economics and Political Science, Gorter Family Chair in Islamic Studies, and Associate Director of the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University.
Economic History and DevelopmentEconomyInternational Economics and DevelopmentNorth Africa and The Middle East