Demand for a “Western” Education around the World

Increased demand for a “western” education around the world has reshaped whom these institutions serve, by Alan Wechsler in The Atlantic of June 5, 2017.
Wikipedia defines an international school as a school that promotes international education, in an . . . .

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Increased demand for a “western” education around the world has reshaped whom these institutions serve, by Alan Wechsler in The Atlantic of June 5, 2017.
Wikipedia defines an international school as a school that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting a curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, Edexcel or Cambridge International Examinations, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the school’s country . . . .
Demand for a “Western” education around the world

The International-School Surge

After losing two jobs in the Denver area due to budget cuts, the school librarian Jennifer Alevy found a new direction for her education career in 2011: an international school in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The origins of today’s international schools can be traced to 1924, but they’ve grown exponentially in the past 20 years. Originally created to ensure that expatriates and diplomats could get a “western” education for their children while working in far-flung countries, international schools have found a new purpose: educating the children of wealthy locals so those kids can compete for spots in western colleges—and, eventually, positions at multinational companies.

This dramatic change means increased opportunities for American teachers abroad—and, potentially, increased competition in the U.S. from a new demographic of English-fluent and cosmopolitan young people from all over the world.

Today, Alevy is the coordinator of library services at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which caters to Vietnamese students. The school, which was founded in 2006, has devoted resources to its library that Alevy rarely saw back in the states. “I feel fortunate that the school I work in has seen the value in the library and librarians,” she said. “I am really excited for the opportunity to work with three other librarians. I have not had that chance in a long time.”

Across the world, teachers educated in America, Great Britain, Australia, and other English-speaking countries are being imported in droves to teach the kids of wealthy or even middle-class families of emerging nations in Asia, the Middle East, and other developing regions.

“The majority of the world wants a grounding in English,” said Bruce McWilliams, the executive vice president of International School Services, a New Jersey-based company that recruits teachers for international jobs.

The growth of international schools is staggering. Twenty years ago, there were only about 1,000 English-language international schools worldwide, according to the U.K.-based ISC Research. Most of the students in these schools were the kids of expat families working abroad—diplomats, journalists, NGO staff, technicians, and mid-level corporate types.

Today, there are more than 8,000 international schools, serving 4.5 million students with 420,000 teachers. And 80 percent of students are actually from the school’s host country. And, according to ISC, demand is rising—in the next 10 years, experts expect the number of international schools to double to more than 16,000 schools and 8.75 million students worldwide.

“I wanted my kids to be Chinese, to know who they are, but to learn with a global perspective.”

Mitsuko Sakakibara of Japan is a typical parent. Her son Leon, 8, attends the Hokkaido International School in Niseko. “I would like my son to have an international environment education to build his mind as a global citizen from a young age,” she said, explaining she didn’t think he would get that in a Japanese school. “English would be the basic tool to communicate smoothly … and also help to have more choice to decide where to study or work.”

The United Arab Emirates and China now have the most international schools—about 550 English-speaking schools in each, according to ISC—but places as India, Vietnam, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia are also seeing huge increases. More than 20 cities in the world have at least 50 English-speaking international schools each, such as Dubai (which has more than 250) and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; Beijing; Shanghai; Bangkok; Tokyo; Singapore; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Madrid.

The average annual tuition for these schools varies by country—in Bangladesh, it’s $5,200; in Singapore, it’s $18,500. In places like China or India, the tuition is often higher than what the average family in that country earns in a year, making the schools available only to the wealthy.

Recognizing this changing demographic, schools are finding new ways to meet growing demand—and get around rules in some countries that limit the schools local students can attend. Take the Elite K-12 Education Group, which began in Ningbo—located on the coast near Shanghai—and is expanding to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and other big Chinese cities. The school, which models itself after the British education system, offers an international bilingual program for Chinese nationals. Its local ownership allows local students to attend despite government rules which restrict Chinese nationals from attending internationally owned schools.

“I wanted my kids to be Chinese, to know who they are, but to learn with a global perspective and to be fully prepared for western university,” said Tao Sun, the chairman of the organization. “If you want your child to have many options for world-class universities, and if you want them to survive, thrive, and succeed there, then they need to start learning and speaking English as soon as they can.”

Look at some of the 8,000 international schools around the world, and it’s easy to see the appeal. In Dubai, the Safa Community School offers “clustered” classrooms with a common area that is “like a big sitting room for the community, where you can study at the ‘kitchen table,’ play a board game on the floor, film an action scene, bake some cookies, or sit on a bean bag with a laptop,” according to the school’s Facebook page. Down the road, the GEMS Nations Academy has classes in robotics and coding in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.

Michael E. DeBakey High School in Doha, Qatar, offers a focus on STEM training for professions in the medical field, while Cranleigh Abu Dhabi students are developing their own opera. Meanwhile, at the Nansha College Preparatory Academy in Guangzhou, China, content and English language teachers work together to plan and deliver lessons. That means that even in physics class, students’ English skills are constantly being tested.

Compare these approaches to a typical public school in many developing countries, where it is not uncommon to have more than 40 students in a class. In schools like that, the focus is on rote memorization and lectures, with little emphasis on student participation, according to international-school representatives. Of course, the children of many poor families in developing countries are often unable to attend school at all, because of cultural issues, the need to help out at home or earn money for the family, or the inability to afford school fees or uniforms. According to a UNICEF, more than 59 million children of primary-school age were out of school in 2013.

Plenty of international schools continue to cater to the expatriate family. With globalization, more people than ever are choosing to work abroad. This has led to a new euphemism: “Third Culture Kids,” or TCK. Picture a whole generation of, say, American kids who carry U.S. passports but have barely spent any time living in their home country.

“It’s all interrelated—this whole notion of free markets, global economy. Education has to meet that need,” said Cynthia Nagrath, the marketing and communication manager at The International Educator, a teacher-placement service based in Massachusetts. “People have to work together with students of different cultures,” she said. “That’s the beauty of these international schools. You’ve got students from all over the world, but they all learn together in English.”

For more, see the original document . . .
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The Maghreb Union the world’s worst trading bloc

The Maghreb Union the world’s worst trading bloc is a vast expanse of land between the Sahara, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and is made of nations with relatively homogeneous ethnic compositions that are largely dominated by the Amazigh component. The Arab identity that was inlaid during the 8th and 9th centuries came eventually to dominate the whole without however convening it, within one State or complementary neighbouring States.

The Maghreb Union the world’s worst trading bloc is believed as such by most, notably by the author of the proposed article of the WEF.  It is nevertheless a vast expanse of land between the Sahara, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and is made of nations with relatively homogeneous ethnic compositions that are largely dominated by the Amazigh component.  The Arab identity that was inlaid during the 8th and 9th centuries came eventually to dominate the whole without however convening it, within one State or complementary neighbouring States.
Today rallies take place with or often without confrontation with the security forces in every corner of the Maghreb to claim for most amongst many things their legitimate identity.  The Mouvement Autonomist Kabyle and the M’zab in Algeria, the Rif’s Hirak in Morocco are only the loudest few taking to the street for what could be assimilated to discontent with such existing States.
All of these countries it is said are consequent to a long chain of crises.  These started with the demise of that part of the Maghreb from the multi century old rule of the Ottoman Empire to the superfluous French protectorate of a few years in Morocco and Tunisia and outright but unsuccessful colonisation in Algeria.
This article below of the World Economic Forum written by Wadia Ait Hamza, Head of Social Engagement – The Americas, gives a pretty descriptive image of the currently prevailing situation of the countries of the Maghreb.

The Maghreb Union is one of the world’s worst-performing trading blocs. Here are five ways to change that

The Maghreb is the perfect example of a region whose countries have been unable to find their way to a deeper integration

The Image above is of REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

In today’s world it is increasingly difficult for non-integrated countries to be either economically or politically viable. It is simply not sustainable for countries to be isolated in their own bubble; those nations should overcome their competitive mindset and search for ways to cooperate with their peers.

The Maghreb, in Northern Africa, is the perfect example of a region whose countries have been unable to find their way to a deeper integration. Only the most basic level of cooperation exists between the region’s five countries – Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – despite the fact that the Maghreb Arab Union was created more than 25 years ago with the aim of building a powerful economic bloc in the region.

The region’s potential is enormous, especially if its countries can work together. However, trade between the Maghreb countries represents just 4.8% of their trade volume, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa – and it represents less than 2% of the sub-region’s combined gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank. This region is one of the lowest-performing trading blocs in the world.

If the five Maghreb countries were integrated, each would gain a minimum 5% rise in GDP. A report by the World Bank on economic integration in the Maghrebestimated that deeper integration, including the liberalising of services and reform of investment rules would have increased the per capita real GDP between 2005 and 2015 by 34% for Algeria, 27% for Morocco and 24% for Tunisia.

read more on the original WEF website

 

Start-ups revolution in the MENA region?

All economic activities are enterprise based and these are like any living body in need of renewal and maintenance, in other words, they go through a lifecycle like anybody else.  This begins, to carry on the same analogy, with birth.  According to the Cambridge Dictionary  it means a small business that has just been started. Wikipedia elaborating little more to define a startup company (startup or start-up) as being an entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged, fast-growing business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing or offering an innovative product, process or service. A startup is usually a company such as a small business, a partnership or an organization designed to rapidly develop a scalable business model. Are we witnessing a Start-ups revolution in the MENA region? The answer would depend on the location of where the birth occurs.

In the MENA generally, there is a relatively good understanding of the vital importance of the Start-up as it were business of encouraging its eclosion and nurture.  The reality of the terrain though does make some difference between those with the required cash and those have-nots.  Stability and domestic market buoyancy do weight in and most times take over the relevance of the cash requirement.

The Middle East’s start-up scene – explained in five charts: an interesting article written John McKenna, Formative Content published on May 17, 2017 by the World Economic Forum on the situation of the Start-ups in the MENA as illustrated by colourful charts would be advisable to ponder on.  The author concludes his essay with a laconic Middle Eastern cities have a long way to go before they can compete with leading global start-up hubs.

Meantime, the local press mainly online also looking at the matter whether it be the long awaited respective governments’ programme of diversification of the economies leitmotivs or the new thriving dynamism is giving positive results especially now there is almost no hope as far as the petro economies of the GCC, etc. of going back to the $100 barrel heydays.

Here are the most illustrative areas of predilections in which the young start-ups dive in first and these are not surprisingly the Phones, Apps & learning tools: Here are the best tech launches of 2017 as per AMEinfo.  It notably stating that today the world is dominated by technology thoroughly looked at it, brand by brand and arrived at the conclusion that better be with it than without it.

Apart from the obvious hardware, start-ups are also interested by all matters software such as data handling, open and / or shared data from all types of organisations, government, public and private sector alike.  AMEinfo again shines with a beautifully tailored article on this subject.  It is about  Data will add AED10 billion to Dubai economy: Arabnet Digital Summit.

 

The Dead Sea might come alive with the WEF

In our article World Economic Forum 2015 at the Dead Sea, Jordan  we have tried to bring to our friends’ attention that the Dead Sea might come alive with the WEF as the international gathering of world heads of states, academia, businesses and / or communities.  It did make life a little easier by bringing friends as well as antagonists together so as to debate and / or share in the debates of ideas.
We come back again this time for yet another summit next week of the WEF Middle East & North Africa 2017.  It starts on May 19 and finishes on May 21st, 2017 as previously to be held in Dead Sea, Jordan. It is understood that it will have a platform where a lot of important topics are going to be discussed in a variety of domain such as business, economics, entrepreneurship, governance, politics, demography, public and private sectors and of course growth.
1000+ participants are expected making it the most outstanding event on contemporary economics and finance topics at a time where we are witnessing a historic turning point in the process of dissemination of economic ideas and adjustments in the world of economics are dramatically accelerating.
In Davos last January, Middle East business leaders have joined forces with the WEF to launch a strategy to boost private-sector investment and accelerate the pace of economic reform in the region.  Would we expect some sort of account rendering on this plan.
This plan aimed to reduce the high levels of unemployment among Arab youth that is amongst many things perceived as a major driver of continued instability of the MENA countries.
In any case here is the WEF’s statement published on May 16, 2017 on this forthcoming event. It is written by Malik Faraoun, Lead, Middle East and North Africa, World Economic Forum

The Middle East and North Africa: a region on the brink of historic change

This article is part of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2017

In a couple of days, Jordan will host the 2017 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the Dead Sea. It will bring together over 1,000 global leaders – from government, business and civil society. The aim: to unlock a set of opportunities for a profound transformation of the region and to pave the way for a new narrative of shared peace and prosperity. Its theme of “generational transformation” heralds the emergence of a framework that supports social cohesion and responds to everyone’s aspirations for today and tomorrow.

The region is split by two narratives: on one side, a positive view, which paints a picture of a blossoming digital and technology scene, accompanied by a renewed drive for reforms (aptly exemplified by the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030). On the other side, the region remains plagued by the largest humanitarian crisis of our times, in particular the war in Syria.

There are also three concurrent trends shaping the region, and which will form the focus of the meeting. These are:

  1. To seize the innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities that are powered by the digital revolution. More technological change is expected over the next decade than in the past 50 years,according to Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum. It means the region could leapfrog 20th-century technologies and move straight to the advanced technologies of the 21st century. This year, for the first time, the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation have joined forces to highlight the foremost 100 Arab-world start-ups. At the meeting in Jordan, these companies will be applying their innovative worldviews to artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, augmented reality and the internet of things.
  2. To work with government and business leaders to create actionable solutions to accelerate economic reforms and build inclusive economies. In the coming decade, 75 million jobs need to be created in the Middle East and North Africa. As IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has stated, growth is too slow and benefiting too few of the global economy. This is even more relevant for the Middle East and North Africa. Thus policy-makers need to design economic frameworks that at the same time create value and are accessible to all. Once economies are transforming in an inclusive manner, we shall create jobs for the millions Arab youth entering the labour market every year. A profound economic transformation calls for a massive leap in human-capital development, new strategies for entrepreneurship and industry diversification, and creative ways for to bridge the infrastructure gap.Responding to the imperative of building inclusive economies, the meeting will advance theNew Vision for Arab Employment initiative, which aims at investing in the continuous learning, re-skilling, up-skilling and job readiness of one million of the region’s youth. It will also accelerate delivery of economic policy reforms and host the launch the region’s hub of the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership for infrastructure to address market failures in infrastructure.
  3. Last (and just as crucial) is to support humanitarian efforts and diplomatic dialogue towards de-escalating conflicts and achieving a vision for shared stability. The prosperity of the Middle East and North Africa is inarguably related to success in limiting the conflict spill-over, rebuilding post-conflict and fragile states, and enhancing humanitarian action. Building on its impartiality and convening power, the World Economic Forum will continue to provide a platform for diplomatic dialogue to further breakthroughs for the future of the region. In this regard, the programme of the meeting will include high-level dialogues on the future of Syria and Iraq with key international and regional stakeholders. On the humanitarian front, the meeting will call for innovative models to enhance the delivery of emergency aid bringing together more synergies between the private sector, host governments, the refugee population and humanitarian players.

For these reasons, the 2017 World Economic From on Middle East and North Africa is expected to be a key milestone for the future of the region and an opportunity to “enable a generational transformation”. It aims to be forward-looking, ambitious and truly inclusive.

The WEF recommends further reading :

OPEC, Trump and Gulf Papers trends in May

It is under a title like this “How to get UAE residence visa for your parents in Dubai” in most of the GCC countries major papers that some sort of emigration appears to be underway or at least facilitated. After our daily review of the local press online; a clear OPEC, Trump and Gulf Papers trends in May was felt to be prevailing.

Trump’s Middle East visit could be decisive, says Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury or head of the Church of England last week to The Guardian.

At a time where low oil prices are persistently down and investments generally stagnating, expatriates employment figures though demonstrably kept very carefully away from direct sight, these papers are keen to providing answers to frequently asked questions like this “Do you want your parents to live with you in Dubai?”  With answers such as “Here’s what you need to do.”

Another subject that is keenly pursued by all newspapers editors is about items of news such as this particular one that is about Oman deciding lately to allow property purchase by non-nationals residents.  GCC and foreigners rights to own real estate in the GCC member countries have always been very heavily constrained and / or restricted to certain areas of well-defined urban territories, whereas these seem to be looked at little more liberally these days for the benefit of the expatriate workers.  Could such facilitation be allowed for any specific reason or is it just an operation for fishing wide and large for some kind of PR campaign.

Apart from wondering on the nature of the newspapers response to obviously a well felt demand for such as it were family reunion or gathering, it must be said that all this is happening whilst the rest of the Middle East is going through its most poignant phase in its millennia history.  Ironically it is at this conjecture that taxation will be introduced shortly starting in a few months making expats wonder whether they will be going to have to start paying taxes in the countries where we work.  Their immediate reaction is as for everywhere : does taxation mean representation.  These know that after all they have no political clout, no representation in municipal, regional, let alone national councils.

We have fished a typical rendering of this on-going thread of business as usual in Gulf News of May 16, 2017  citing their Source as being The official portal of Dubai Government .

 

 

France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria

And the prospects of mutual cooperation . . .

The two countries confronted to their specific challenges ought to have a common vision in order to contribute to a prosperous future as based on genuine co-development and not on obscuring the memory of a shared past for long lasting relationships. The recent France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria, are looked at here as positively as they could be in so many years. [ . . . ]

And the prospects of mutual cooperation . . .

The two countries  confronted to their specific challenges ought to have a common vision in order to contribute to a prosperous future as based on genuine co-development and not on obscuring the memory of a shared past for long lasting relationships. The recent France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria, are looked at here as positively as they could be in so many years.

The 187 odd years of very close relationship between the two countries will certainly be in the agendas of each as the renewed French leadership confronted to challenges from all around is settling down shortly for business anew.    

It is about preparing the future through mutual respect; a point that I always made during my various meetings with political and economic personalities, and maintained that Algeria should not be considered as a market only. It is in this context that a co-partnership between Algeria and France, far from prejudice and spirit of domination must be inscribed.

We must be aware that the new international relations are no more based on relationships between heads of State, but on custom networks and on decentralized organizations through the involvement of notably business and civil society cooperation, dialogue of cultures, tolerance and the symbiosis of the contributions of the East and the West.

Because it might be unproductive to be and remain locked in distant positions as the latest events should rather make us think of to how avoid antagonising each other beliefs be it religious.  After all Islam, Christianity or Judaism did contribute to the development of civilization.

Future relations between Algeria and France must also concern the Maghreb-Europe space and more generally the Mediterranean-Europe area. Our two countries can be dynamic agents, because southern Europe and the Maghreb cannot escape adaptation to the current global changes (the present crisis already causing upheaval in both socio-economic and geo-strategic) and more generally throughout the Mediterranean region.

Because it is necessary to go beyond narrow chauvinist nationalism insofar as real nationalism will be defined in the future as the ability to together expand the standard of living of our people by our contribution to the global value.

Today’s world is characterized by interdependence. This does not mean the end of the role of the State but a separation of politics and economics which cannot be the vagaries of the economic climate, the State dedicated to its natural role as regulator of macroeconomic and macro-social life.  I firmly believe and after analysis that the intensification of the cooperation between  Algeria and France not forgetting all other cooperation between Algeria and the USA, all emerging countries such as China, Japan, India, the Brazil, Turkey, South Korea and Russia etc…

And in a more comprehensive way between the Maghreb and Europe as based on a genuine co-development, partnership, the introduction of direct investment would upset the bureaucratic behaviour conservative annuitants and enrol them in a dynamic perspective that is beneficial to the peoples of the region thus helping to  turn the Mediterranean into a lake of peace and prosperity.  The Mediterranean can be that place of rational networking to communicate with distant cultures, encouraging the symbiosis of contributions of the East and the West.

This network should facilitate communication links, freedom insofar as the excesses of the collective voluntarism inhibit any spirit of creativity. It is that the Maghreb and Europe are two geographic areas with an opening on the Latinity millennial experience and the Arab world with natural links and overall culture and Anglo-Saxon influences…

It is essential that Europe developed all actions that can be implemented to achieve a desirable balance within this set. In fact the formation of weak regional economic areas is a step of structural adjustment within the globalized economy with for a goal to promote political democracy, – a humanized, competitive market economy – promotion of ideas through social and cultural debates so as to combat extremism and racism – the implementation of common business whilst never forgetting that these are driven by the logic of profit and not emotions.

Thus, it is necessary to pay special attention to the educational action because human thinking and creation should in the future be the beneficiary and the leading actor in the development process. That’s why I would advocate the creation of a Euro-Maghrebine University as a cultural center as well as a central Euro Mediterranean bank as a facilitator for all Exchange.

It is in this context that a realistic approach must be apprehended so as to the co-partnership between Algeria and France taking into account all potentialities.  At the global level, we are witnessing the evolution of a built-up passed based on a purely material vision, characterized by hierarchical rigid organizations, to a new mode of accumulation based on the mastery of knowledge, of new technologies and flexible organizations as networking around the world, with globally segmented supply chains of production where investment in comparative advantages takes place in sub-segments of these channels.

As rightly noted by Jean-Louis Guigou, President of IPEMED (Institute of Prospective Economic of the Mediterranean world, in Paris), it should be that, in the interest of both of the Algerians and of the French, and more generally of the Maghreb and the Europeans as well as all South-Mediterranean populations, the boundaries of the common market of the future, the borders of Schengen in the future, the borders of social protection in the future the borders of the environmental requirements of tomorrow, must be South of the Morocco, the Tunisia and Algeria, South and East of the Lebanon, Syria, of the Jordan and the Turkey, through a lasting peace in the Middle East, Arab and Jewish populations with a thousand-year history of peaceful coexistence.

Specifically, Algeria and France have economically other strengths and potential for the promotion of diverse activities and this experience can be an example of this global partnership becoming the privileged axis of the re-balancing of the South of Europe by amplification and the tightening of links and exchanges in different forms. Per the official foreign trade balance of Algeria in 2016, the countries of the European Union are still its main partners, with the respective proportions of 47.47% and 57.95% of exports and imports.  Italy is the main customer and France the main supplier.

Between France and Algeria, trade can be intensified in all areas, i.e.: agriculture, industry, services, tourism, education, not to mention cooperation in the military field, where Algeria can be an active player, as shown by its efforts to bring stability to the region.

Also, let’s not forget the diaspora with residents of Algerian origin in France that would exceed 4 million, including more than 2 million bi-nationals. This regardless of the numbers is an essential element of reconciliation between Algeria and France, because it holds significant intellectual, economic and financial potential. The promotion of the relations between Algeria and its emigrant community should be mobilized in various stages of intervention initiatives of all the parties concerned, namely the Government, diplomatic missions, universities, entrepreneurs and civil society.

Hence, any intensification of this cooperation won’t possible – whilst not forgetting the duty of memory – if Algeria and France have a realistic approach to the co-partnership for a win-win partnership away from any mercantilism and spirit of domination. The two countries must have a common vision of their future.

Algeria can overcome its current difficulties but the success of national and international industrial partnerships is not feasible without a total renovation of all central and local governance systems with a coherent vision based on both political, social, economic structural reforms including financial market, land and property market, labour and especially reform of the socio-educational system, at the dawn of the fourth technological revolution.

The objective for Algeria is to commit for structural reform, whilst assuming a broad internal mobilization of the social front, tolerating the different sensitivities, in the face of the many challenges in order to allow Algeria to emerge, in the medium and long term.  For this, the dominance of the bureaucratic approach must give way to economic operational approach, with positive social and economic impacts. Also, in the face of the new global changes, Algeria undergoing this transition towards a productive economy closely tied to its energy transition, needs an accumulation of technological and management expertise with assistance from its foreign partners.

In short, Algeria and France are key actors for the stability of the region, and that any destabilization of Algeria would have negative geo-strategic repercussions throughout the Mediterranean and African region, as I pointed out in my interview on December 28, 2016, the American Herald Tribune (3).

And of course, subject to Algeria furthering into the rule of law, democratization of society and that it’s reorienting its economic policy in order to achieve sustainable development. The current tensions between Algeria and France are only temporary, as per information gathered with friends of mine in France.

It is only in this context that cooperation must return for a win-win partnership far from all prejudice and in mutual respect.

 

Notes : See recent contributions and international interviews of Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul

  1. -«Wahl in Algerien Der Graben ist tief – wer stimmt ab?» – www.tagesschau.de –ARD-  04/05/2017
  2. -« Après Glavany et Macron… « Dépassionner les relations entre l’Algérie et la France » quotidien financier  français la Tribune .Fr 19 février 2017 – (“After Glavany and Macron…» “Take the heat out the relationship between Algeria and France” by French financial daily la Tribune.fr  19 February 2017)
  3.  – American Herald Tribune 28/12/2016 «  Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul: Any Destabilization of Algeria would have Geo-strategic Repercussions on all the Mediterranean and African Space
  4.  -Interviews with the weekly Point Afrique (Paris-24/03/2016) and the Express (07/04/2016, Paris) on the prospects for co-operation Algeria-France.
  5.  -This theme was developed by Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, on 7 April 2016 in Marseille at the Mediterranean Villa

 

 

“The Middle East: A region divided” 2017 Report

The MENA region consist as we all know of countries of predominately Arab at 70%, Iranian and Turkic at approximately 14% each, populations.  A study of these ‘Arab World’ populations’ youth titled “The Middle East: A region divided” 2017 Report based on surveys undertaken by ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, a Public Relation firm established in Dubai, UAE and lead by Sunil John, founder shareholder and Chief Executive Officer
We took the initiative with compliments to this gentleman, to borrow few excerpts so as to hopefully launch a debate on this report.  This started with the premise that :

“The 22 Arab nations spread across two continents, Asia and Africa, have to pull together in a historic movement to declare a shared manifesto that focuses on a unified destiny.

And that:

The solution for the region’s problems, as the Arab Youth Survey sees it, must come from within this region, and not from the US, Russia, Europe or even the United Nations.“

Elaborating, ASDA’A BursonMarsteller stated that its 9th Annual Arab Youth Survey 2017 was conducted by international polling firm PSB Research to explore attitudes among Arab youth in 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. PSB conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews from February 7 to March 7, 2017 with Arab men and women aged 18 to 24.  The interviews were conducted in Arabic and English.

The aim of this annual survey is to present evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis.  It is the largest of its kind of the region’s ‘largest demographic’, and covers the six Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) the Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestinian Territories) and Yemen. The survey did not include Syria due to the civil unrest in the country.

The key theme running through this Youth Survey 2017 is a sobering one: we live in a region where young people straddle a fault line between hope and despair.  A vast, important demographic that is united by religion, language and culture is increasingly separated by access to opportunity.  Even today, given the conflicts, security issues and unemployment which sadly mark much of the region, the overall finding looks surprisingly positive: just over half of young Arabs as a whole still believe their nation is on the right track.

Looking at the Survey on a region-by-region, or country-by-country level, however, we see a stark divide between youth in the Gulf states, who are brimming with optimism, and those in the Levant – Lebanon, Jordan, Palestinian Territories, Iraq – and Yemen, who are anxious and disillusioned about the future.  The real tragedy of this year’s key findings is that young Arabs are becoming more pessimistic.

“Our best days are behind us” is not a phrase any government should hear from anyone, least of all the very demographic that will be living with the legacy of their rule.

It would be easy to dismiss this divide as the result of the widening income gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ – those that have oil, and the prosperity that should come with it and those that don’t.

Young Arabs realise that while their elders played the victim game and sought intervention and protection from foreign allies, that strategy no longer cuts ice.  The world is becoming increasingly inward-looking and globalisation is being challenged:

According to this year’s Survey, young Arabs do not see the US, Russia or other international powers as their biggest allies, but Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  And they increasingly see the UAE as a model country – one that they would not only choose to live in over any other, but also want their own countries to emulate.

This suggests a solution: that good governance could be the UAE’s newest export.  The soft power of the UAE is one of the Middle East’s greatest assets – and one that doesn’t just enrich the UAE but the whole region, through the promotion of stability and prosperity.

National and international complexities mean that a one-size-fits-all model would be unrealistic. But some aspects of the UAE model are universal: empowering youth, and focusing on enabling positivity, happiness and tolerance – increasingly in short supply across the region – would be  a strong start.

The Arab Spring of 2011 is behind us, and last year’s Survey showed us youth were increasingly disillusioned with its legacy.  But revolutions can take a long time for their full effects to become apparent. For better and for worse, the region is very different today than it was six years ago. It’s easy to concentrate on the ‘worse’ – the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya, the refugee crisis and continued instability in Iraq, to name just a few.  For better, though, we see that nations are waking up to the new reality and finally preparing their economies for the future. In Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar we see younger generations taking more prominent roles in government; in Egypt we are seeing the return of a measure of economic and political stability; in Iraq and Syria we see Daesh in retreat; in North Africa, outside of Libya, we see relative stability; and across the region we see young people increasingly rejecting the message of extremism.

Twelve years ago, long before the Arab Spring provided a wake-up call to autocratic regimes, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, sent a clear message to Arab governments: “You must change, or you will be changed.”

So what is the solution?

The 28th Arab League Summit, held in Jordan in March this year, pontificated for the nth time on the same issues, and came out with no solution.  While it may sound utopian, the only real solution that has the chance to offer a candle in the sea of darkness is one led by the spirit of youth and the courage to be positive.

We in MENA-Forum accept all the report’s findings as a true picture of the current situation.  For a start we would join in applauding such initiative to try and cover such a diversely endowed region by nature and millenary culture.  We would nevertheless have to note that misunderstanding is however still prevailing sadly in most of its hot spots where it would certainly be difficult to extricate a happy opening for each and every side to be happy with.