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The COVID-19 pandemic left no part of the globe untouched. Across the world, governments responded in varying manners to try to control the virus and to limit its effects on their populations and their livelihoods. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is no different. Although many countries were spared from the initial global wave of infections, by the fall of 2020 large-scale outbreaks affected much of the region. Over the next two years, citizens were forced to adapt to the changing environment and to lockdowns, economic shocks, and the rising cost of living, among other challenges.

The effects of COVID-19 on the region have been examined from a number of perspectives, especially the tragic loss of human life. Initially, much of the focus was on the public health angle, thinking about the challenges that COVID-19 posed to healthcare systems and the weaknesses it exposed. Additionally, the pandemic’s economic costs have received substantial attention, including the costs for everyday lives. Lockdowns forced hardships on many households whose members may not have been able to work, while subsequent shortages in supply chains have led to rising costs for goods.

What has received less attention is how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the views and attitudes of ordinary citizens toward their governments and toward each other in the MENA region. The pandemic has the possibility to affect relations between citizens and their governments: ordinary people may blame governments for the perceived failure to protect their health and economic security. It also may affect how they view their governments’ justifications for limiting their basic rights or freedoms, seeing as how most governments across the region restricted basic liberties (such as freedom of movement) in the name of public health. Finally, this crisis may have changed how citizens view each other. Social relations were vastly affected during lockdowns, with households being forced to remain together, for example.

Amaney Jamal
Amaney Jamal is Dean, School for Policy and International Affairs and Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is Co-Principal Investigator of Arab Barometer.

Using data from Arab Barometer, the region’s largest publicly available source for public opinion data, this essay considers the changes in the views and attitudes of ordinary citizens as a result of the pandemic. The survey found that confidence in government remains low in the MENA region, although this trend does not appear to be dramatically affected by the coronavirus pandemic. However, a more detailed analysis suggests that the longer-term economic challenges that emerged from the pandemic may further hurt the standing of governments in their citizens’ eyes. In terms of views of rights, perhaps counterintuitively, the survey found that most citizens were more likely to say they enjoyed basic rights than before the pandemic, but this likely relates to their comparison of the state of their rights today versus the heavy restrictions that existed during the early pandemic era. Additionally, the survey found that citizens were reluctant to give up their basic rights even during times of emergencies such as COVID-19. Finally, this essay examines the growing support for women’s equality across the MENA region. Although a majority still favored men having power in both the public and private spheres, there has been a recent shift in favor of greater equality. Most likely, this comes down to shifts in daily life brought about by the pandemic and is similar to shifts in favor of gender equality observed in other regions of the world.

Domestic Political Actors

For much of the 2010s, perceptions of government had been worsening in the MENA region. Broadly speaking, citizens were losing faith in their governments and other political actors and in these actors’ ability to resolve long-standing challenges, such as low economic growth; high unemployment, especially among youth; and quality public services. The pandemic represented not only a unique challenge but also an opportunity for governments to work toward rebuilding trust with their populations. If MENA governments were able to effectively manage this crisis, they reasoned, it could lead publics to have greater confidence in their ability to address other challenges. In fact, the governments that took drastic steps, including lockdowns and closing borders, fared quite well in the initial days of the pandemic. These actions appeared to have delayed the spread of COVID-19 in most MENA countries. Results from Arab Barometer Wave 6—conducted between July 2020 and April 2021—suggested that citizens strongly supported such measures and rewarded governments that took decisive action in the name of protecting public health.

Yet, the benefits did not last. By fall 2020, most countries in the region had experienced a significant outbreak of the disease, which had dramatic effects on citizens in the region. It also changed how citizens rated governments and their performance overall. As quickly as long-standing trends had given way to greater confidence in governments, the initial gains in confidence were largely lost as governments failed to contain the virus in the medium term.

Michael Robbins
Michael Robbins is Director and Co-Principal Investigator of Arab Barometer.

As the pandemic progressed, the broader effects became clearer. Not only were many lives lost and health systems put under severe strain, but economic outcomes also worsened. Supply chain shortages contributed to significant increases in the cost of living across much of the region. Even governments that had managed the pandemic relatively effectively, such as Morocco, found citizens coming under economic strain from the lasting effects of the pandemic.

Three key emerging challenges were access to basic necessities, a rising cost of living, and increasing economic inequality. In half of the twelve countries that Arab Barometer surveyed between October 2021 and July 2022, more than half of citizens said that within the last year they had run out of food before they had money to buy more. Although this was the first time Arab Barometer included this question, meaning trend data are not available, the degree of hunger in a set of mostly middle-income countries is particularly striking.

Second, there was a strong perception that the rising cost of living was a growing challenge. In most countries surveyed, this was the most common response to the biggest problem that resulted from the pandemic. When respondents were asked to choose among eight potential options, at least one in five chose the rising cost of living. Similarly, when asked about the most important step governments in the region could take to fix economic conditions, lowering the cost of living was, on average, the second most important step after creating jobs. Overall, when asked to pick among eight potential actions, at least one in five (in seven of twelve countries surveyed) selected limiting rising costs as the most important step governments could take.

Rising economic inequality was widely perceived as another major problem across the region. In all twelve countries surveyed, clear majorities said they were concerned about the wealth gap, including at least three-quarters of respondents in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Tunisia. Meanwhile, in six of ten countries where the question was included, half or more said that this gap had increased over the past year, including 83 percent in Jordan, 82 percent in Egypt, and 74 percent in Lebanon.

Views of government appeared strongly linked with concerns about these economic challenges. In none of the nine countries where the question was included in the 2021–2022 wave of the Arab Barometer did a majority say they had confidence in their government. In more than half of the countries, fewer than a third said they trusted their government a great deal or quite a lot.

Isolating the exact effect of COVID-19 on levels of trust in government is challenging in light of confounding events that have also affected public perceptions. For example, despite the desperate situation faced by Tunisia during the pandemic, the election of populist President Kais Saied and his subsequent effective coup in July 2021 more likely affected views of the government than did the pandemic. In this case, Tunisians expressed more confidence in the government in fall 2021 than they did in 2018. Lebanon, a country that underwent a complete financial collapse in 2019, reveals the opposite trend. Although citizens were surely concerned about the government’s weak response to COVID-19, the financial crisis more likely accounted for the decline from 19 percent to 8 percent of respondents who trusted the government over the same period.

The cases of Jordan and Morocco provide additional insight, particularly given that COVID-19 represented the primary challenge faced by both countries during this period. In the case of Jordan, perceptions of government emerged worse than before the pandemic. Although the government’s performance was initially strong and delayed the onset of the coronavirus, by late 2020 Jordan was confronting the worst and deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in the region. Even if there was little the government could do to prevent the virus from entering Jordan, public perceptions of the government fell by 7 points from 2018 to 2022. In contrast, although Morocco also suffered heavily from COVID-19, the trust in government increased during this period. It is plausible that since the government was one of the most ambitious in the region in securing vaccines at an early stage of the pandemic, the public rewarded the government for its relatively strong performance on the issue. Yet, additional analysis suggests other factors may be at play instead.

When asked specifically about how the government did responding to COVID-19, there is relatively little variation. In the vast majority of countries, citizens did not believe that the government did overly well, but they did not blame the government extensively for its handing either. In eight of the eleven countries where the question was asked, between 44 and 62 percent of respondents said the government had done a good or very good job managing the pandemic. In the case of Jordan and Morocco, there was effectively no perceived difference in how the government managed the pandemic, with Jordan at 55 percent and Morocco at 53 percent, suggesting that the divergent changes in levels of trust in government during this period may not be linked with government performance on COVID-19. Notably, in most countries surveyed, ratings of the government’s performance of managing the coronavirus were substantially higher than levels of trust in government.

However, there was a clear correlation between views of how the government managed COVID-19 and levels of trust in government. On average across the region, those who said the government did well on the pandemic were more than twice as likely to say they trusted the government compared to those who said the government did not do well. Although managing COVID-19 well did not yield greater trust for all citizens, it appears that a government’s perceived success at handing the crisis could improve citizens’ confidence in their government overall.

Still, for the longer term, opportunities to rebuild levels of trust in government are likely to be limited. Even if the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on healthcare systems passes, the longer-term effects from the pandemic and other global challenges, particularly rising cost of living, are likely to grow in importance. Most likely, citizens will return to judging their governments based more on economic performance than on their management of the pandemic.

Economic Concerns

Perceptions of the economy were unfavorable across most of the region. Among countries surveyed, only in Kuwait, a state with vast oil wealth, did a majority rate economic conditions as good or very good. In ten of the remaining eleven countries, at most a third said the economic situation was positive. These levels were extremely low in Jordan (15 percent), Tunisia (14 percent), Sudan (13 percent), and Lebanon (less than 1 percent).

Ratings of the economy were low even before the pandemic and have since declined in some countries. For example, in Jordan nearly a quarter (23 percent) said the economy was good in 2018 compared to 15 percent in 2022, an 8-point decline. Notably, this continues a dramatic decline that predates COVID-19, with the figure having fallen from 46 percent in 2016.

However, domestic events also played a role beyond the challenges from COVID-19. In Tunisia, economic ratings remained low, with 14 percent saying the economy was good—a 7-point increase from 2018. Most likely, this somewhat more favorable perception was in response to Saied’s actions in July 2021 more than changes to the economy itself relating to COVID-19. Initially, Saied’s closure of parliament was very popular, and Tunisians became far more hopeful about their economic future. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, ratings fell from 14 percent saying the economy was good in 2018 to less than 1 percent in 2022. This outcome may reflect the challenges from COVID-19 but also reflects the financial collapse of the country in the fall of 2019, when the currency lost upward of 90 percent of its value.

To evaluate the perceived effects of COVID-19, Arab Barometer asked citizens what they believed was the biggest challenge to emerge out of the pandemic. In most countries surveyed, the plurality of citizens named the rising cost of living. In Egypt (40 percent), Tunisia (35 percent), and Mauritania (33 percent), at least one in three held this view. In the vast majority of countries, nearly a quarter or more did.

At the same time, it appears that citizens were more likely to feel the impacts of rising costs than a complete lack of basic goods. In all countries surveyed, fewer than one in five said that the biggest challenge resulting from COVID-19 was a decreased availability of necessities. In most countries, fewer than one in ten held this view.

The effect of rising costs was made clear by the challenges citizens had affording basic necessities. In nine of the twelve countries surveyed, at least half of respondents said it was often or sometimes true over the past year that they worried that their supply of food would run out before they had money to buy more. In fact, at least two-thirds reported this happening in the past year in Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, and Sudan.

When asked if they had actually run out of food in the past year, in half of the countries surveyed a majority said yes. In Egypt, Mauritania, and Sudan, more than six in ten said they had run out of food in the last twelve months. For the most part, this wave of surveys was completed before Russia invaded Ukraine, meaning that the ensuing rise in inflation and global shortages had not yet been felt by publics. In other words, in most countries surveyed, this was the picture of food security in MENA that was emerging after the breakout of COVID-19 but before subsequent global events made the situation worse.

Despite these challenges, few in the region reported receiving help to mitigate the situation. In ten of eleven countries where the question was asked, at least three-quarters said they did not receive any kind of relief aid during the pandemic. The key exception was Morocco, where only about half (53 percent) reported receiving no assistance. In Morocco, the key source of assistance was in fact the government, with 61 percent of those who received help saying it came from the national government. In half of the other countries as well, the national government was listed as being the primary source of assistance. However, given the relatively small percentage that received assistance, it is clear that in most countries, many if not the majority of those in need did not receive the financial assistance that they needed to help weather the pandemic.

Yet, the results also suggest that citizens did not believe that all citizens in their country were affected equally. In part, this stems from broad concerns about the wealth gap that is observed across the region. In all twelve countries surveyed, clear majorities said that the gap between the rich and the poor was problematic to a great or medium extent. In half of the countries surveyed, at least three-quarters held this view, including 92 percent in Jordan and 87 percent in Egypt. Moreover, in six of ten countries where the question was asked, at least half said that compared with twelve months prior, the wealth gap had widened (see figure 1). This sentiment was particularly prevalent in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, where about three-quarters or more said it was increasing. In three of the remaining countries, almost half (between 44 percent and 47 percent) said the wealth gap was increasing. Mauritania was the singular surveyed country where only a minority of citizens (32 percent) said the wealth gap had increased.

Overall, these results paint a troubling economic picture across the region. Although not all of these outcomes can be linked directly with the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that citizens perceived their fortunes to be declining during this period. Although not a majority, a sizeable percentage of citizens said that the primary challenge from the pandemic was not health-related but instead an effect on their personal economic outcomes. As people go hungry in many countries that are formally considered middle income, the toll of the last few years becomes clear. Whether governments have the will or capacity to meaningfully address these challenges remains to be seen. However, for the most part, they have not done so effectively over the previous decade. As COVID-19 exacerbates long-standing challenges facing the region, governments will be forced to find solutions under even more difficult circumstances. If they do not, then it is likely views of government will decline even further due, at least in part, to the long-lasting effects from the pandemic.

Changes to Basic Rights

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a number of restrictions on basic activities in the name of public health, particularly freedom of movement or assembly. In many countries, governments enforced strict lockdowns to try to limit or slow the spread of the virus, in part to help hospitals cope with the caseload. However, some governments took additional steps, including limiting freedom of speech or of the press, ostensibly to prevent the spread of unsubstantiated rumors or false information about COVID-19. In fact, the public emergency measures were often used as a means of limiting criticism of the government and its actions during the pandemic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, citizens across the MENA region were divided on the degree to which they felt their basic rights were guaranteed after the pandemic. In nine of the twelve countries surveyed, at most about half said that the freedom to express opinions was guaranteed to a great or medium extent (see figure 2). This level ranged from 51 percent in Lebanon and Algeria to just 31 percent in Palestine. The key exceptions were Kuwait (74 percent), Tunisia (72 percent), and Morocco (60 percent), where a clear majority believed this right was guaranteed, at least to a medium extent.

Although relatively few felt that the basic right to freedom of expression was guaranteed, the trends in most countries actually suggest that citizens felt they had greater freedom of speech in 2021 and 2022 than they did before the pandemic. In Libya, Sudan, Kuwait, and Morocco, citizens were more than ten points more likely to say that this basic freedom was guaranteed in 2021–2022, at least to a medium extent, than they were in 2018–2019 just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were also increases of 7 points in Lebanon and 6 points in Tunisia on this measure. To some extent, these changes may not be entirely linked with COVID-19; for example, the rise in Sudan may be due to the increased liberties gained from the protest movement that began in late 2019. However, it is notable that even in cases like Morocco and Lebanon, which did not experience similar changes, there was a perceived increase, suggesting that perhaps citizens felt that as restrictions on their basic rights were lifted more generally, their rights seemed more guaranteed than they did before the pandemic.

However, this trend does not hold up in all countries. In Jordan in 2022, citizens were 18 points less likely to say their right to freedom of expression was guaranteed than they were before the pandemic, while Palestine exhibited a 9-point decrease. Notably, Jordan instituted one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in the early days of the pandemic in the name of stopping the virus from entering the country. However, at the time of the survey, it did not appear that citizens believed all of their rights to freedom of speech had fully recovered since the pandemic started. In Palestine, the decrease in citizens’ saying their freedom of expression was protected may be tied less to the pandemic and more to some of the changing perceptions of basic rights associated with governments in the West Bank and in Gaza, as well as increasing tensions and greater restrictions as a result of the Israeli occupation.

Restrictions on mass gatherings are more in line with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 according to public health experts. Across the MENA region, perceptions about the extent to which freedom of assembly was protected was lower than for freedom of speech. A clear majority said they enjoyed freedom of assembly in just one of the eleven countries where this question was asked. In most countries surveyed, about four in ten or less said the right to demonstrate peacefully was guaranteed to a great or medium extent, including just 27 percent in Palestine, 25 percent in Jordan, and 12 percent in Egypt. The key exception was Tunisia, the country that has been most democratic since 2011 in the region, where 61 percent of citizens still said this right was guaranteed.

However, a similar trend emerges when examining changes over time, with a widespread perception that the right to demonstrate peacefully was more guaranteed in 2021 and 2022 than it was before the pandemic. In countries for which trend data are available, there have been increases in six countries, including by 20 points in Sudan, 13 points in Tunisia, 12 points in Libya, and 10 points in Lebanon, since shortly before the pandemic struck. Although in some cases, like Sudan, this most likely represents a meaningful change in the legal rights enjoyed by citizens, elsewhere this may reflect the sense that restrictions on people gathering had been lifted since the early days of the pandemic. Even if there has been no meaningful improvement since the 2018–2019 period in most countries, the comparison to a time when all gatherings were formally restricted in many countries may result in citizens saying that their basic rights are more guaranteed than before the pandemic.

Again, the two key exceptions to this trend are Jordan (-18 points) and Palestine (-12 points). As with perceptions about freedom of expression, these changes are most likely a result of the stringent restriction of movement in Jordan at the beginning of the pandemic and a sense that these rights have not since been restored. In Palestine, movement of people is often restricted by Palestinian authorities or the Israeli occupation, so these numbers may again reflect this reality.

The issue of basic rights, particularly restrictions on essential freedoms, takes on a renewed importance in societies where these rights have often been restricted. Although limiting rights in the name of protecting public health may have been important, there remains a question of whether publics across the region are willing to accept such restrictions. Results from Arab Barometer make clear that publics are mostly accepting of such restrictions under certain circumstances, but very few are willing to give their governments carte blanche approval to restrict them any time there is a public emergency. For example, only in Mauritania did more than one in five citizens say the government should always be able to limit freedom of speech during a public emergency (see figure 3). In Egypt (9 percent), Palestine (7 percent), and Lebanon (4 percent), fewer than one in ten held this view.

However, the pandemic has likely influenced how citizens feel about this issue. In many cases, citizens said that it is sometimes justified to restrict freedom of speech during public emergencies. This perception was highest in Kuwait (55 percent), followed by Algeria (52 percent) and Libya (48 percent). However, only about a third of respondents in Lebanon (36 percent), Egypt (36 percent), Sudan (34 percent), and Iraq (33 percent) felt the same. Notably, Egypt, Sudan, and Iraq were all countries that experienced long periods during which state of emergency laws were implemented, suggesting these historical legacies may account for a greater reluctance to cede basic rights even in times of crisis.

However, in most countries, pluralities if not outright majorities said that it is never acceptable to limit freedom of speech during times of emergency. In four cases—Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Sudan—at least half said these rights should never be compromised. In the remining eight countries, between four in ten (Morocco) and about three in ten (Kuwait) said the same.

However, there was a somewhat greater willingness to accept restrictions on the media during times of crisis. In seven of the twelve countries surveyed, between a fifth and a third of citizens said it was always justifiable to censor the media during a public emergency. Only in Egypt and Palestine did fewer than 15 percent hold this view. In most countries, a plurality said that it was sometimes justifiable to censor the media during a time of crisis. In most countries surveyed, this ranged between 40 and 50 percent, although the percentage was only about a third in Iraq (36 percent), Mauritania (35 percent), and Sudan (31 percent).

Meanwhile, in eight of twelve countries, a third or fewer said it was never justifiable to censor the media during a time of emergency. This belief was lowest in Algeria (24 percent) and Kuwait (23 percent). However, in Sudan (46 percent), Palestine (45 percent), and Iraq (41 percent), pluralities said that this action was never justified during a time of emergency.

These findings highlight shifting views on the issues of basic rights across the region. As before the pandemic, in most countries, minorities said that these rights were guaranteed, but the pandemic may have shifted expectations. In most countries surveyed, citizens were more likely to say they enjoyed basic rights than shortly before the onset of COVID-19. As restrictions have been lifted, citizens may feel that rights have improved, even if this is not an actual change from the pre-pandemic period. However, citizens were largely unwilling to say their governments should be able to curtail these rights during any public emergency. Although many were willing to accept this under at least some circumstances, this was not universally held, and citizens demonstrated that they prefer their governments to tackle these challenges while still guaranteeing their civil rights.


Evidence from around the world suggests that COVID-19 affected not only relationships between citizens and their governments but also within the family unit. Many of these changes have had a disproportionate impact on women. Globally, women appear more likely to have suffered job losses resulting from the pandemic compared to men. However, there may be some positive changes well, particularly related to perceptions of gender roles. Namely, as lockdowns brought men and women into closer contact within the home environment, perceptions of women’s roles appear to have changed.

Results from Arab Barometer suggest that in most countries citizens are now more likely to say women should have equal say within the home than they did before the pandemic. However, this does not mean women are viewed equally. When asked if a man should have the final say in all decisions concerning the family, about half or more agreed in nine out of twelve countries surveyed (see figure 4). The perception that men should be given the final say was most prevalent in Algeria and Iraq (65 percent). In contrast, fewer than half said men should have the final say in the household in Tunisia (43 percent), Palestine (42 percent), and Lebanon (34 percent).

Changes over time do suggest that support for women’s equality within a household did improve during the period of the pandemic. In six countries, the percentage of citizens who said a man should have final say within the household declined significantly from 2018–2019 to 2021–2022. The most notable declines in this view were found in Lebanon (-16 points), Sudan (-13 points), Kuwait (-13 points), and Tunisia (-11 points), while meaningful declines also occurred in Palestine (-9 points), Algeria (-6 points), and Iraq (-5 points). Meanwhile, in Libya and Jordan, there was no discernable trend, while in Morocco there was a 6-point increase. In other words, with a single exception, views of women’s role within the household have either been unchanged or, in the majority of cases, have shifted toward equality during the course of the pandemic.

Support for women’s equality by a second measure also increased during the period of the pandemic. In this case, the shift was in the views of women’s role in the public sphere. The degree to which this change was directly linked with the pandemic is not fully clear, although it is possible that higher views of women within the home may translate into greater support for women’s equality in the public sphere. In large part, this may be due to the relatively strong link between support for greater equality for women in the private sphere and in the public sphere. Evidence from the United States has demonstrated this linkage, as has other research. Although support for women’s equality in the public sphere lags that in the private sphere, it appears that the changes in views of women within the home during the coronavirus pandemic may have spilled over into views of women in the public sphere.

To evaluate this possibility, Arab Barometer included a question about whether men make better political leaders than women. By this measure as well, views of women are trending toward greater equality. Nevertheless, most citizens in the region still believed that women were not equal to men as political leaders (see figure 5). In eight of twelve countries surveyed, about two-thirds or more affirmed that men were better at political leadership. This perception was particularly strong in Algeria (76 percent) and Sudan (71 percent). Only in Morocco (49 percent), Tunisia (40 percent), and Lebanon (36 percent) did half or fewer agree with this view.

Similarly, in six countries, views of women’s equality in the political sphere increased during this period. This was especially true in Tunisia, where citizens were 16 points less likely to say men were better at political leadership than they were before the pandemic. Some of this change may be due to the appointment of Tunisia’s first female prime minister shortly before the survey, but the fact that the trend extends to additional countries suggests a broader pattern. Other meaningful changes were observed in Lebanon (-14 points), Sudan (-11 points), Kuwait (-9 points), Jordan (-9 points), and Palestine (-5 points). In Iraq, the trend was effectively unchanged taking into account the margin of error, while in Morocco (+14 points) and Algeria (+4 points), the trend moved in the opposite direction away from women’s equality.

These results demonstrate that COVID-19 likely had effects on social relations as well. In most countries in the MENA region, views of women’s roles in society had been relatively stable over much of the previous decade. This shift across numerous countries could be the result of other factors, and the magnitude of change within each country likely relates to country-specific conditions; however, the broader shift toward women’s equality across the region is most likely related to changes from the pandemic. This result is particularly noteworthy, suggesting that views toward women in both public and private spheres are linked, meaning changes that ensued from COVID-19 have likely benefited women’s equality beyond the home.


These results from Arab Barometer make clear that in addition to the known changes that have taken place in health and economic outcomes, among others, MENA publics are also changed. COVID-19 has exacerbated many long-standing challenges that governments in the region must address, particularly on the economic front. Although citizens do not appear to be much more likely to blame their governments coming out of this pandemic, if these broader issues cannot be solved in the years ahead, this is likely to change.

The survey also makes clear that citizens are worried about their basic civil rights, with relatively few saying these are guaranteed. Despite perceptions that citizens’ rights are more assured than they were shortly before COVID-19, there are reasons to believe that this effect may be temporary. Citizens are mostly unwilling to cede their basic rights during any event the government deems to be an emergency, indicating a broader desire for these rights to be respected.

Finally, in terms of everyday social interactions, the results strongly suggest that COVID-19 has changed how citizens think about women’s rights. This finding accords with evidence from other regions around the globe, suggesting a broader trend. It is possible that this will not hold over time and that old patterns will reemerge, but for now it suggests that women have made tangible gains in their quest for greater equality across the MENA region.