The Yabroudi Prize is awarded each year to the two best essays dealing with any aspect of the Middle East and North Africa. Because of the high quality of the graduate submissions this year, the re- view committee awarded certificates and cash prizes of $500 to Hessah AlOjayan, PhD candidate at the Whitman School of Management, and to Michael Allen Makara, PhD candidate in Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Ms. AlOjayan’s paper entitled “Price of Islam” is a quantitative analysis of the market effects of religious norms on stockholders’ behaviors. Muslims follow Islamic law (Sharia), which forbids usury (Riba), so charging interest is prohibited when it is positive and fixed “ex-ante,” or ahead of time. This ban on interest was expected by the author to influence the economic and investment decisions of Mus- lims. By studying Islamic companies’ ownership holdings and profitability, she provides new evidence of significant differences in asset pricing that exist between Islamic and conventional shareholding compa- nies and explain the difference in pricing. Data from the Kuwait Stock Exchange was utilized in the study.

Mr. Makara’s essay, “Protection or Defection? Coup-Proofing and Military Behavior during the Arab Spring,” advances previous work on military defection and authoritarian breakdown, in particular by political scientists Eva Bellin and Gregory Gause III. He outlines various coup-proofing strategies that Arab regimes has adopted to keep their militaries in check and explain why military behavior during the Arab Spring has been so puzzling, both empirically and theoretically. Next, he presents a theory of mili- tary defection based on different combinations of coup-proofing measures. Finally, the paper supports the theory with a detailed examination of civil-military relations in Egypt, Syria, and Libya and offers more general conclusions.

The Yabroudi Prize winners were announced at the Middle Eastern Studies Program annual re- ception on April 18, 2012 in the Strasser Commons at the Maxwell School. Both of the recipients were abroad in the Middle East at the time.