Co-organized by Silatech and the Middle East Youth Initiative (MEYI), and hosted by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, “The Social-Economic Situation of Middle East Youth on the Eve of the Arab Spring” focused on the region’s rapidly changing social, political, and economic landscapes, and analyzed events leading up to and during the early days of the Arab Spring.
With young people driving much of the region’s current social and political change, the workshop provided an opportunity for top regional and international experts to discuss labor market issues, the demographic impact of a large youth population, education reform, the impact of women in the labor force, youth entrepreneurship and social engagement, among other issues. One session was devoted to GCC youth, focusing on reducing unemployment and boosting citizen participation in the labor force in Qatar and the UAE.
Participants also discussed knowledge gaps in our understanding of youth issues and exchanged ideas on future topics for research consideration, as well as how to communicate their findings to the region’s policy makers in order to maximize impact and most effectively benefit youth. Organizers noted that an edited volume of papers presented at the workshop will be published.
Silatech CEO Dr. Tarik M. Yousef stressed that youth in the Arab world constitute a very important demographic segment which offers the potential to drive progress and positive change: “We now have over 100 million young people in the Arab world between the age of 15 and 29—the highest proportion of young people in the region’s history—as well as the world’s highest rate of youth unemployment. Often unable to find a job, get married, start a household, these young people are not yet fully integrated into their society.”
He continued by noting that “These young people are also a wonderful opportunity for our region. The ‘Asian tigers’ experienced a demographic bulge similar to that which the Arab world is now experiencing, and with the right policies and programs in place, the energy, ambition and numbers of our youth can spur great progress in this region much like that which the east Asian countries achieved.”
Rami Khouri, Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, said: “The Issam Fares Institute and the American University of Beirut are delighted to partner with Silatech and the Middle East Youth Initiative at this critical moment to build on our shared commitment to fostering research that can contribute to better policymaking in the Arab world. Arab youth are in the midst of leading and deepening a historic change in governance, citizenship, and well being across the region, and researchers today must be more able to inform policy making in a timely manner. We believe the outcome of our discussions will promote this goal.”
Silatech Director of Research and Policy Nader Kabbani said: “This workshop will help improve our understanding of youth issues in the region and help us to identify where the gaps are in our knowledge, allowing us to identify new areas where further research is needed. Supporting this workshop complements Silatech’s efforts to mobilize knowledge and networks, while working to change mindsets and policies for the overall benefit of this region’s youth.”
Thursday, December 13- 2012 @ 11:20 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.