A protestor in Tahrir Square, Cairo, holds up a portrait of former President Nasir, 2011

CPD University Fellow Laurie Brand considers the evolution of Middle Eastern nation branding with a focus on Algeria and Egypt.

Photo reprinted courtesy of Gwenael Piaser via Flickr

Prior to the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, economic, political, and internal security policies were considered to be fundamental features of authoritarian regime maintenance.

The Algerian national football team are to donate their entire World Cup prize fund to the embattled people of Gaza, it has been reported. According to quotes attributed to Algeria’s star striker Islam Slimani, the team will give up all of the estimated $9 million (£5.25 million) they received as valiant losers in the round of 16.

The popularity of the World Cup is making for some unexpected relationships in Egypt, especially after a mooted deal to show the games on Egyptian TV fell through. As Algeria takes on Germany in the second round of the World Cup in Brazil this evening most Egyptian fans will be rooting the Algerians, an incredible happenstance when one considers the enmities around the Egypt v Algeria match in November 2009 which saw attacks on Algerians in Cairo and on the Egyptian embassy in Algiers.

Although he was hardly seen during the election campaign season in Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika recently won another presidential term, extending his 15 years in power. Despite frail health of the president, Algeria has managed to retain relative stability in an increasingly unstable neighbourhood. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that Turkey is interested in closer relations. Historical ties and recent economic cooperation have made Algeria an important partner for Turkey, whose help can be used to re-establish stronger ties with Africa.

In a large tent shrouded in dust, Safia Lansar’s family gathers to drink tea. The 85-year-old’s grandson-in-law, Mohamed, rhythmically pours the steaming liquid back and forth from cup to cup. Mohamed's infant son lies sleeping on the ground, wrapped in a cloth swarming with flies. They sit on the land where Mohamed was born. His son was born here, too. But not Safia.

They have a reputation for smashing everything in their wake. Their nickname is the Chnawa, literally “the Chinese,” a politically incorrect reference not only to their large numbers but also to their reputation as an unstoppable horde. They are the fans of Mouloudia Algiers, the doyen of soccer in Algeria and the beating heart of the nation. Even though the club does not always win the national championship, Mouloudia is by far the most popular team in the country and the one that politicians, and the government, want on their side.

Officials from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia working on higher education reform will exchange experiences with Malaysian counterparts at a 4-day workshop beginning today, supported by the World Bank and the British Council Malaysia.