The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Don't call us lazy

This makes sense:

Long working hours in the Middle East and Asia – shortest in France
People work an average of 1,902 hours per year in the surveyed cities but they work much longer in Asian and Middle Eastern cities, averaging 2,119 and 2,063 hours per year respectively. Overall, the most hours are worked in Cairo (2,373 hours per year), followed by Seoul (2,312 hours). People in Lyon and Paris, by contrast, spend the least amount of time at work according to the global comparison: 1,582 and 1,594 hours per year respectively.

It's not surprising: you see people in Cairo work several jobs all the time, while the self-employed work extremely long hours. This is not the same thing as working efficiently, of course, and Cairo does not have the reputation for being a place where you can get things done quickly. People partly work longer hours because it takes more to get things done.

But you can't deny that this is an unbalanced economy which forces people to work for ridiculously low salaries (particularly but not only in the public sector), privileges the upper middle class (which enjoys most of the benefits of low-cost living), provides little labor protection (indeed the police collaborates with factory owners to disband strikes) and where, on top of it, the state provides few quality services, meaning people must earn more to provide basic security for their families (i.e. health, etc.) The result: long hours, low quality of life. If only we could all be French.