I was following the proceedings of the 3rd Arab Economic and Social Development Summit that was held in Riyadh last week. I was mainly interested in the focus and attention the summit showed to Arab youth issues and concerns.
Before the start of the Arab Spring two years ago, young people in all major Arab cities were looked at as a heavy socio-economic burden on their countries. Unemployment and instability was their distinctive identity till the Arabic youth uprising made them a major concern for international studies.
One of the recent studies is the Arab Youth Survey 2012, which was conducted by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland. The study was carried out throughout the Arabic region and included 2500 young men and women aged 18 to 24.
The study showed that Arab youth believe that lack of democracy and civil unrest are the biggest obstacles facing their development.
They see the Arab spring as a positive improvement to their rigid political systems, which can redeem trust in Arab governments and alleviate escalating corruption. However, many of them think that the Arab spring will not spread further to new countries.
Their main daily economic concern is how to get better pay and achieve their dream in home ownership. The continuous rising cost of living is their greatest concern, and they see the UAE as the perfect economic model nation to be cloned and to live and work in.
Many of them think that traditional values are being increasingly challenged by modern modifications. Although the majority of young Arab people agree that traditional values are dominant; however, the percentage of youth who say that such values are outdated and need to be replaced continues to increase.
When asked about how they see the state of countries of the world, a lot of them said that they look favorably to countries such as France, China and India. They see a shift of major foreign powers toward these countries and wish that their influence will be increasingly positive to all humanity.
Of course the unsurprising knowledge that came of this survey was the enormous increase in the amount of political news consumption by these youths.
The major change was that they are following the news but less frequently on television and more often on the Internet where they developed a passion for the blogosphere and social media tools.
A tweet: “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
— @ msalsaif