The way the future looks

 18 Jul 2013 - 3:30

Has anything changed this year compared to last year? The fifth annual Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which was conducted in cooperation with Silatech, shows that there is optimism in the youth about the future of the Arab world.

An overwhelming 74 percent of Arab youth surveyed in 15 countries across the Middle East and North Africa region agreed with the statement that “our best days are ahead of us.”

There are, however, many questions about the accuracy of such surveys, which are conducted by foreign agencies, though with Arab funding. They talk about all the political, social and economic ailments and then ask us to be optimistic about the future. This is all done for media consumption. 

Recent statements from the International Labour Organisation show that youth unemployment is highest in the Arab countries, and unemployed youth make up more than half the population in most Arab countries. The majority of university graduates in these countries are unemployed, and some of them are engaged in marginal jobs that have nothing to do with their qualifications.

The same reports point out that about two million youth join the ranks of the jobless in the Arab countries every year. The situation in the Gulf labour market would be worse due to the flow of foreign labour to this market. 

The main challenge for Arab countries, which have large populations of poor people and depend on food and fuel imports, is the ability to adopt policies that stabilise their economies and limit the negative impact of inflation on the indigent.

Apart from all this, one need not mention problems facing the democratisation process, the weakness of civil societies, and political, religious and sectarian conflicts that beset these countries.

I am not pessimistic by nature. But I am also not over-optimistic as the Arab Youth Survey 2013 suggests, at least about the next ten years. We need to face the realities, not conceal them. The situation in the Arab countries is not fine, and does not make for optimism. An old Arabic proverb says, “Your friend is the one who tells you the truth, not the one who considers you truthful”.

 

Has anything changed this year compared to last year? The fifth annual Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which was conducted in cooperation with Silatech, shows that there is optimism in the youth about the future of the Arab world.

An overwhelming 74 percent of Arab youth surveyed in 15 countries across the Middle East and North Africa region agreed with the statement that “our best days are ahead of us.”

There are, however, many questions about the accuracy of such surveys, which are conducted by foreign agencies, though with Arab funding. They talk about all the political, social and economic ailments and then ask us to be optimistic about the future. This is all done for media consumption. 

Recent statements from the International Labour Organisation show that youth unemployment is highest in the Arab countries, and unemployed youth make up more than half the population in most Arab countries. The majority of university graduates in these countries are unemployed, and some of them are engaged in marginal jobs that have nothing to do with their qualifications.

The same reports point out that about two million youth join the ranks of the jobless in the Arab countries every year. The situation in the Gulf labour market would be worse due to the flow of foreign labour to this market. 

The main challenge for Arab countries, which have large populations of poor people and depend on food and fuel imports, is the ability to adopt policies that stabilise their economies and limit the negative impact of inflation on the indigent.

Apart from all this, one need not mention problems facing the democratisation process, the weakness of civil societies, and political, religious and sectarian conflicts that beset these countries.

I am not pessimistic by nature. But I am also not over-optimistic as the Arab Youth Survey 2013 suggests, at least about the next ten years. We need to face the realities, not conceal them. The situation in the Arab countries is not fine, and does not make for optimism. An old Arabic proverb says, “Your friend is the one who tells you the truth, not the one who considers you truthful”.