Historically, Egypt was a land of immigrants rather than emigrants. Until the mid-1950s, foreigners came to Egypt but Egyptians rarely migrated abroad. Its labor emigration history can be divided into two phases: first, high-skilled emigration across the Arab world throughout the 19th & early 20th centuries & second, primarily low- & medium-skilled outflows to Libya, Iraq & the oil-producing Gulf Cooperation Council countries starting in the early 1970s.
At first, students went abroad in the nineteenth century & some temporary migration for political reasons occurred in association with early Egyptian nationalism. Egyptians’ interest in migration began in the mid-1950s. This was due to political, demographic & economic pressures. After 1967, many factors combined to motivate the state to promote migration. The state had previously imposed restrictions on the migration of skilled workers, but in mid-1966 it eased migration procedures & permanent migration commenced. Many graduate students were tempted to stay abroad due to unfavorable economic conditions at home after the 1967 war. This was the start of the Egyptian ‘brain drain’. The expansion phase started directly after the 1973 war. The 1990 Gulf War forced almost all Egyptian immigrants in Iraq & Kuwait to return to Egypt.
The first two years after the Egyptian revolution under the rule of the Supreme Council off the Armed Forces & the then under the elected Islamist president witnessed unfavorable economic conditions, demonstrations & a political sharp divide between the political Islam parties & liberal parties & other forces in the society. In addition, Egypt witnessed many incidents of sectarian strife between Muslims & Christians which constituted a threat to national unity & the principle of citizenship that threaten the principle of coexistence between Muslims & Christians & led some Christians to think about migration from Egypt.
The current economic & political situation in Egypt increases the desire for migration, especially among Chrisian Egyptians, fresh graduates & those who are affected by the deteriorating economic conditions. Without political stability in Egypt, as well as in the region, Egypt will keep facing economic problems that will have a severe impact on employment & migration.