MENARY Monitor – Edition 123
August 6, 2023
Politics and Political Engagement
Despite the announcement of tens of billions of dollars in aid to Yemen from donor countries and international institutions since 2015, the economic and living conditions present contrasting realities, raising questions about the actual impact and allocation of these funds on the lives of millions of citizens. Yemen is facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, as classified by the United Nations. Officially declared Gulf aid to Yemen over nine years surpasses $27 billion, with additional humanitarian assistance from international relief agencies and donors like the United States amounting to around $20 billion, according to the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. However, the ongoing conflict and deprivation persist, with poverty expanding and over half of Yemen’s population suffering from hunger. Among the internally displaced, where women and children constitute 80%, the situation remains dire. The World Food Programme, which provides food to around 13 million people in Yemen and seeks $2.9 billion in funding this year, reports that funding shortages have resulted in reduced activities. Since June of the previous year, five million people receive only half of their daily needs, while eight million receive only a quarter.
Stringent measures, including operations targeting migrant smugglers, have led to a reduction in irregular migration through Turkey’s eastern border, particularly the Van border with Iran. Orhan Deniz, head of the Population and Migration Studies Center at Yüzüncü Yıl University, highlighted the impact of a border wall under construction, increased patrols, and operations against traffickers. The Interior Ministry reported record deportations, with 124,441 irregular migrants and 58,758 Syrians facilitated for voluntary return in the previous year. Deniz noted a significant decrease in irregular migrants at the border since January, attributing it to crackdowns on smuggling rings and nationwide operations against irregular migration. Deniz also observed a change in migrant profiles, with a shift from security-related concerns to economic motivations, especially among Afghan nationals, where youths and those seeking employment now comprise the majority of irregular migrants.
The Youth Directorate of Ajloun Governorate, Jordan, organized a camp titled “Enhancing Youth Participation in Political Life” in collaboration with the Independent Election Commission. Political party specialist Mohammed Al-Majali from the Independent Election Commission discussed mechanisms to enhance youth participation in political and party life, including the significance of electoral and party laws, and their importance in involving youth in political processes and decision-making. He emphasized the vital role of party work in selecting political elites capable of implementing party programs, whether political, economic, or social, for the public good. The camp aims to boost youth involvement in political and party activities and to educate them about electoral and party laws, as well as tools for political engagement. Discussions within the camp revolved around workshops aimed at raising awareness among youth about their roles in political and party life.
Egyptian social media was abuzz with criticism and questions after a photo circulated of former military general Samir Farag delivering a lecture to a new batch of diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the photo, Farag is seen giving a lecture on “Dimensions of Egyptian National Security,” sparking wide debate among Egyptians, as the young diplomats were seen dressed in military clothes in the photo. Some Twitter users called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify whether the young diplomats undergo military training before joining the ministry.
Economics and Entrepreneurship
The informal economy has become a refuge for Tunisian youth seeking employment, as its operational capacity has expanded to include half of the country’s workforce. Despite the precariousness of informal jobs, Tunisian youth are increasingly turning to this sector. A study conducted by Friedrich Ebert Foundation revealed that around 77% of young people are engaged in informal work without contracts or social coverage. The shift towards the informal labor market is attributed to the limited opportunities in the organized job market. High levels of risk and limited financial support in the formal sector drive young people, including university graduates, towards the informal sector. The study also highlights the changing profile of migrants, with youth primarily seeking economic opportunities. Tunisia has been facing unemployment challenges, with an overall unemployment rate 40.2% among youth.
A new poll conducted by Bayt found that 71% of Moroccans want to emigrate in pursuit of career advancement. The survey also highlights that 71% of employees are open to switching fields or sectors if it facilitates emigration, and 49% aspire for higher-ranking positions. The National Observatory of Human Development (ONDH) further reported that seven out of ten young Moroccans were enticed by the prospect of migrating abroad, with 83% expressing dissatisfaction with their current lives. Notably, the desire to emigrate is prominent among Moroccan youth, who view it as a means to enhance their skills, professional qualifications, and financial prospects. This aspiration extends beyond the younger demographic, encompassing established professionals such as doctors, engineers, and technicians.
During a seminar on the role of the Moroccan expatriates in local and regional development, Minister of Solidarity, Social Integration, and Family, Aouatif Hayar, emphasized the importance of creating suitable conditions for the integration of Moroccans living abroad in the country’s development initiatives. She stressed that these conditions should involve collaboration among institutional, territorial, and civil society stakeholders, along with enhancing international cooperation and partnerships in research and innovation. With approximately 5.1 million people living abroad, 60% of whom are aged between 15 and 39, the minister highlighted that their skills and expertise could contribute to Morocco’s economic and social progress across various fields such as investment, entrepreneurship, scientific research, innovation, and modern technology.
The Arab Youth Center and General Motors Africa & Middle East have launched the second phase of the “Arab Youth Technology Fellowship” program, focused on enhancing STEM skills and business leadership among Arab youth. This collaborative effort offers theoretical and practical training, including mentoring, dialogue, and internships with GM’s regional leadership and partners. The program aims to elevate the next generation’s skillset, leadership abilities, and innovative thinking. Discussions during mentorship sessions and internships covered technology, sustainability, and future mobility, allowing talents to benefit from GM’s expertise. The program spans crucial topics like AI-driven mobility, partnerships with startups, innovation, and women’s leadership. The second phase offers opportunities, business incubators, and training with the goal of fostering innovative projects led by youth.
EarthLink has announced its intention to train and employ at least 1000 young Iraqi graduates who have qualified through the “Entrepreneurship” initiative, launched by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani. The CEO of EarthLink made this announcement during the closing events of the “National Youth Dialogue” conference held in Baghdad. He stated that the company will embark on a new era of private sector contribution by training and employing at least a thousand young graduates from the Entrepreneurship initiative, providing them with benefits equivalent to those of government employees, including guarantees, retirement plans, and allowances. He further highlighted that supporting the initiative is a way for the company to give back to the Iraqi community and that this will not be the last initiative of its kind.
The twelfth edition of the Youth City 2030 Initiative was launched at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Center. The initiative aims to train Bahraini youth and prepare them for the job market through various well-designed programs that meet their needs and the requirements of the labor market. The initiative offers 2,740 training opportunities across different fields through more than 100 carefully designed programs. These programs focus on technical, practical, and creative aspects to develop participants’ skills and capabilities, enabling them to excel and enter the job market.
As part of its efforts to invest in the potential of Jordanian youth, the All Jordan Youth Commission launched an e-commerce training program with the aim to provide comprehensive training in content creation, e-platform management, e-commerce, and e-marketing. The training is designed to enhance participants’ knowledge, practical and theoretical skills, and competitiveness in the job market. The program incorporates modern teaching methodologies, evaluation indicators, and pre-defined action plans, with a focus on post-training assessment and continuous development.
As part of youth development and capacity building in robotics and artificial intelligence, the second edition of the “National Summer Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Camp” was launched in Tunisia. The camp, supervised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, aims to enhance the skills of 96 young participants from 24 regions in Tunisia in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. The initiative includes workshops, creative activities, and scientific engagement, showcasing Tunisian youth’s excellence in global robotics and AI. The project’s objectives encompass skill development, fostering creativity and excellence, and facilitating knowledge exchange among active youth in the field. The camp reflects the collaboration of various youth institutions and encourages technological advancement while providing a platform for networking among the participants.
Israeli occupation forces conducted a series of widespread arrests in several areas of the occupied Palestinian territories, including former prisoners, leading to clashes and confrontations. The raids and arrests were concentrated in Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, and Qalqilya, where dozens of homes were raided, causing destruction and subjecting residents to field interrogations. Palestinian organizations concerned with prisoners’ affairs reported that Israeli occupation forces arrested 25 Palestinians from the West Bank, transferring them for interrogation under the pretext of involvement in popular resistance against settlers and the occupation. The Palestinian Prisoners Club reported the arrest of 13 Palestinians during a widespread arrest campaign in Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. Israeli forces targeted homes and caused destruction, arresting three young Palestinians. In Jenin, occupation forces targeted the town of Burqin, arresting six people after entering the town with military reinforcements. The ongoing surge in arrests, accompanied by widespread harassment and destruction, has been termed “collective punishment.” The prisoner’s club has documented approximately 4,300 arrests since the beginning of the year, with Israeli authorities implementing these measures as a daily policy to suppress growing resistance.
Amid heightened tensions, Israeli forces fatally shot an 18-year-old Palestinian in the occupied West Bank during a raid in Tulkarm. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the victim and reported he was shot in the head during a military operation near a refugee camp, leading to clashes. The area hosts around 40,700 Palestinian IDPs, descendants of those displaced in the 1948 conflict. The past 15 months have witnessed escalated violence in the West Bank, marked by increased Israeli operations, Palestinian attacks, and settler-related unrest.
A recent report reveals that Iraq has shifted from being a transit point for drugs to becoming a consumer of drugs, facilitated by the influx of drugs from Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan traveling to Gulf countries, particularly to Saudi Arabia. Ceptagon, produced by Assad’s forces in Syria, has gained prominence in Iraq, being used as an alternative form of currency for road tolls. This shift has led to the drug being resold and consumed domestically, contributing to a rise in addiction among Iraqi youth. Amid this escalation, Iraqi security forces conduct regular anti-drug operations and arrests, highlighting the growing drug consumption crisis. Rehabilitation centers in Iraq have reported an increase in drug-related admissions, with individuals as young as 14 years old seeking help, reflecting a worrisome trend. The recent discovery of a drug production facility in Iraq highlights the severity of the issue.
Jordan has a severe smoking issue, highlighted by a recent World Bank report. The country exhibits one of the world’s highest smoking rates, with alarming statistics such as 24% of students aged 13-15 identifying as active smokers, and over 60% of adult men and 41% of the total adult population being smokers. This places Jordan with the highest smoking prevalence in the MENA region. Smoking-related consequences lead to approximately one in eight deaths in the nation, costing an estimated $2.67 billion in healthcare expenses, productivity losses, and associated costs. Vulnerable segments of Jordanian society, particularly the poorest, suffer the most from tobacco use.
The Youth and Sports Directorate in North Sinai Governorate, Egypt, has implemented “Our Borders, Our Pulse” initiative, which aims to support youth initiatives and innovative community projects. The program was carried out at youth centers and featured training on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, community monitoring tools, and planning community initiatives. Additionally, a “Best Community Initiative and Project” competition was launched, with winning initiatives and projects being further developed in interactive camps.
A total of 24 Egyptian universities are participating in the 13th edition of the Universities and Higher Institutes Youth Week, which is set to take place in September 2023. The event comes in line with the state’s strategy to support and engage university youth, encouraging them to excel in various fields and participate in diverse activities that contribute to their development and skills. It includes a range of competitive sporting, scientific, social, artistic, cultural, and youth activities, as well as parallel and diverse events for Egyptian university students.
The Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority has announced the commencement of training 755 university students across its centers, as part of the summer training program aimed at providing training to 1,900 students from Egyptian universities. The training covered topics such as nuclear research, radiation safety, and applications of atomic energy. Various centers within the authority hosted the students, including the Nuclear Research Center, where students learned about plant research, biotechnological applications, water and land studies, and more. Additionally, other centers focused on radiation measurements, nuclear isotopes, and safety. This training aims to enhance students’ knowledge in atomic energy and radiation safety and is part of a broader effort to engage youth in scientific pursuits.