MENARY Monitor – Edition 125
August 20, 2023
Politics and Political Engagement
The International Commission to Support Palestinian Rights “HASHD” organized a workshop titled “Palestinian Youth: Challenges and Alternatives.” During the workshop, young activists, experts, and academics emphasized the need for a national plan to improve the situation of Palestinian youth amid challenges they face on all levels, especially ensuring their active participation in political, economic, and social decision-making. They stressed the importance of serious international action to halt occupation violations and lift the blockade on Gaza, urging all responsible entities to focus on developing youth capacities and skills, enabling them to be active contributors to society. They also urged for an end to Palestinian division, youth inclusion in decision-making at all levels, support for youth projects, the establishment of a national fund to support youth, and a shift in education towards vocational and technical training. They highlighted the necessity for ongoing youth-led activism to enhance youth participation.
Laith Al-Qeheiwi wrote an article exploring the extent to which Jordanian youth have a space in their country’s reform process. Al-Qeheiwi indicates that there is a current trend in which youth are reluctant to engage in political activities through parties, attributed to the nature of these parties, their initiatives directed towards the youth, and mechanisms to attract them. He adds that youth face many challenges in Jordan, particularly economic and social ones, with high youth unemployment rates affecting their active participation in development and growth. This situation necessitates revisiting youth-directed programs and activities, aligning them with the youth’s potential and cognitive levels of comprehension, analysis, and criticism. Al-Qeheiwi reasons that smart and sustainable solutions are required, drawing inspiration from successful practices and involving Jordanians who have proven their competence in handling crises and challenges, using forward-thinking methodologies and tools. He suggests that need for genuine intent to attract and utilize Jordanian talents who have emigrated, as they represent intellectual, cognitive, and human capital.
The Directorate of Youth in Aqaba, Jordan, organized a dialogue session on the role of youth in realizing Jordan’s reform visions, attended by the Minister of Youth. The minister emphasized that youth are a fundamental pillar in the paths of political, economic, and administrative modernization, encompassing projects and initiatives. He highlighted the Ministry’s ambitious youth plans and programs, executed in collaboration to empower and enhance youth participation in public life. He noted the Ministry’s efforts in activating youth centers, developing programs aligned with youth aspirations, fostering skill development, and encouraging their engagement in political, economic, and social domains. Al-Nabulsi also discussed programs such as the Political Institute for Youth Leadership Development and the Ministry’s strategy for political modernization, as well as economic empowerment initiatives like entrepreneurial forums, volunteering programs, and skill development programs. He stressed that the Ministry aims to work closely with youth themselves to implement these programs, elevating youth work in the country and translating the royal vision into youth advancement and increased influence in decision-making processes.
Despite being deported from Belgium to Tunisia a few months ago due to irregular migration and suspicion of possessing a weapon, the dream of returning to Europe’s shores on a boat continues to haunt a twenty-year-old Tunisian, among many others, who aspire to escape poverty. This young man experiences deep frustration over his failed return and laments being swiftly sent back to his impoverished neighborhood. The young Tunisian expresses his weariness of living in Tunisia, where many young people risk their lives in the drug trade due to lack of alternatives in their dire circumstances. He recalled his story in a report by Aljazeera, which highlighted that this is one among the tragedies of Tunisian youth who dream of escaping poverty and unemployment in a country grappling with economic contraction. Daily attempts at irregular migration by Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans towards European shores continue, often ending in boat sinkings or migration attempts being foiled. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, relying on Italian Interior Ministry data, revealed that around 6,087 Tunisians arrived in Italy irregularly from the beginning of the year until July 31. During the same period, Tunisian authorities thwarted more than 35,000 migration attempts to Italy, involving both Tunisians and non-Tunisians. This rise in migration, both irregular and regular, is attributed to deteriorating economic and social conditions, a lack of perspective, and an absence of solutions from the authorities.
Economics and Entrepreneurship
The recent survey conducted by ASDA’A BCW has revealed concerning trends among Arab youth. With the majority of youth in North Africa and the Levant believe their national economy is headed in the wrong direction, over half of them are actively seeking or considering leaving their countries for better opportunities. Canada was the top desired destination, followed by the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Reasons for considering emigration vary, including job opportunities (49%), seeking new experiences (25%), being closer to family and friends (20%), and escaping political instability (15%). Young people in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are more optimistic about their economies, with 88% saying their country’s economy is on the right track. The survey underscores the complex feelings and aspirations of Arab youth, shedding light on their perspectives and preferences concerning emigration and economic prospects.
Thousands of youth in Gaza are struggling with unemployment and lack of opportunities, with youth unemployment rates exceeding 70%. Over 170,000 graduates are affected by the absence of job prospects, the majority of whom are young people. The International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza is pleading with international and legal institutions to change the dire situation of the youth by providing them with employment opportunities. Khalil Matar, a committee member, emphasized the dire situation in Gaza and urged international and legal institutions to pressure for the lifting of the Israeli blockade. Ahmed al-Nabris of the Ministry of Labor states that Gaza’s unemployment rate is alarming, particularly among youth, as 54% of the unemployed youth are university graduates. He adds that if the blockade is eased, significant changes could occur in these numbers.
The “Arab Youth Talks to Build Awareness” Forum will be held in Cairo, with the participation of Qatar. Organized by the Arab Youth Council for Integrated Development, the event will involve 100 representatives from various Arab associations, institutions, and councils related to entrepreneurship, innovation, education, and technology. The forum will address methods of achieving Arab integration through innovative scientific research, youth engagement, and development plans, including the green economy and technological advancements. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the Arab Youth Council for Integrated Development.
At the G20 Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy in India, the Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Swaha, highlighted Saudi Vision 2030’s significance in advancing competitiveness through empowering youth and women and fostering a technology-driven, sustainable future. Al-Swaha emphasized the digital economy’s role as a social equalizer and economic enhancer, generating new jobs and business models. Saudi Arabia’s achievements include bridging the digital divide for 99% of the population, pioneering offline-to-online network connections, and launching a large AI-based virtual hospital. The country’s focus on empowering youth and women has led to a remarkable rise in women’s employment in the technology sector. Notable sustainability initiatives were also commended, encompassing projects like a battery storage facility and marine surveys using technology for coral reef protection. Al-Swaha also highlighted the projected wealth impact of artificial intelligence, estimating up to $1 trillion in 2023 and nearly $14 trillion by 2030. Commending India’s G20 presidency initiatives, he expressed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to overcoming digital economy challenges.
Mastercard recently reintroduced the “Her Voice” podcast series, aimed at empowering small businesses in Saudi Arabia. As an extension of this initiative, Mastercard partnered with SAB to offer a female entrepreneur the chance to be featured in the podcast’s final episode and receive a $30,000 business grant. Kholoud Attar, founder of KAAPH Media, emerged as the winner. Her entrepreneurial spirit resonates with Mastercard’s commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs through digital payment solutions, data insights, and innovative tools. Attar welcomed the grant as an opportunity to further elevate Saudi women through her entrepreneurial endeavors. Mastercard has a global goal of integrating 25 million women entrepreneurs into the digital economy by 2025, providing them with the necessary tools and solutions for business success.
The Directorate of Labor in Alexandria witnessed the signing of a cooperation protocol aimed at training and qualifying young people in the field of electronics repair, with the goal of providing job opportunities after training. This initiative is part of the directorate’s efforts to engage the private sector in youth employment and provide innovative training programs in line with market demands. The training program focuses on electronics and screen repair, covering topics such as electronic parts, screen components, and practical and theoretical training. The program also offers psychological preparation for dealing with devices and customers, hands-on training on devices used to diagnose faults, and provides employment opportunities for top-performing trainees.
A training session aimed at enhancing youth’s experience in pottery and ceramics has commenced in the city of Kiffa, Morocco, organized by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Traditional Industry, and Tourism. The event aims to train groups of young people in the craft of pottery and ceramics “from basic experience to industrial professionalism under the supervision of experts from the Kingdom of Morocco,” according to a briefing from the Ministry. The Ministry added that this training seeks to provide professional training that reduces unemployment and opens job opportunities for the participants.
ThinkSmart Development and Training Foundation, in collaboration with the Bahraini Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, organized multiple training workshops for young Bahrainis, as part of the “Youth City 2030” initiative. These workshops included programs related to the “My Opportunity” and “Smart Coders” projects. The CEO of ThinkSmart, stated that they are delighted to participate in the initiative and that their training programs aim to assist Bahraini youth in enhancing their capabilities.
Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces in Qalqilya, as a result of which, a young Palestinian with a disability was struck by explosive bullets. Israeli forces fired live ammunition at the mentally disabled young man near the occupation checkpoint at the southern entrance of the city.
A young Palestinian in his twenties succumbed to critical injuries he sustained from Israeli occupation forces’ gunfire during their raid on Balata refugee camp. The occupation forces entered the camp and engaged in fierce confrontations, detonating a pursued house and a Fatah movement headquarters, claiming they were manufacturing explosive devices. Several Palestinians were shot and others suffered from gas inhalation as Israeli forces stormed and destroyed a house in Balata camp. According to the Red Crescent, there were various injuries, as a young man sustained a gunshot wound to the chest, two were injured by live bullet shrapnel and were hospitalized, four sustained shrapnel wounds treated on-site, one was shot and abducted by Israeli forces, 85 experienced gas inhalation and were treated on-site, a child from a house targeted by the occupation forces was evacuated, and two injuries due to falls were treated on-site.
A Palestinian youth has died due to injuries inflicted by Israeli occupation forces’ gunfire during their incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque two years ago. He wounded in Ramadan in May 2021, as the occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque during prayers and shot him with a rubber-coated bullet, causing multiple fractures in his skull and the loss of his left eye. According to the Palestinian news agency “WAFA,” he was initially taken for treatment at a local hospital, but the occupation forces arrested him a few days after his injury, despite his critical health condition. Over the past months, he suffered further consequences, and his health continued to deteriorate until his passing.
The Middle East Eye published an article highlighting the resilience of a new generation of Palestinian youth in Jenin, who continue to face attacks by the Israeli occupation forces. The writer, Palestinian academic Ahmed Jameel Azm, visited Jenin after a significant Israeli attack in July of 2022 and observed a different response from the Palestinian youth. Despite the destruction caused by the Israeli assault, it appeared that Israel had not achieved a significant outcome in its efforts to suppress armed resistance in the camp. During his visit to the camp, Azm discovered that the younger generation, acquaintances, and friends, were well-versed in the details of the recent martyrs from Nablus and Jenin. He noticed that this new Palestinian generation has its own contemporary heroes. Azm pointed out that the fragile security situation and the absence of a broader national liberation movement has compelled the camp residents to defend themselves against the occupation. He concluded by highlighting the unity among the camp’s residents, whether across political factions or different generations, emphasizing that the term “surrender” is not in the vocabulary of Jenin’s people.
The Palestinian National Authority’s security forces arrested a young Palestinian who is wanted by the Israeli occupation forces. The arrest took place after hours of besieging him in the Al-Fare’a area of Toubas city in the northern West Bank. Angry citizens had closed several streets in Toubas in protest against the siege and confrontations erupted between civilians and the PA’s security forces. During the siege, the young man expressed his dismay, questioning the security forces, “Why are you besieging me? I am resisting the occupation! I am being pursued by the occupation, what’s your problem with me? I haven’t done anything against you!” The Palestinian National Authority’s security apparatus continues to target resistance members, released prisoners, and activists for political reasons. The group “Lawyers for Justice” condemned the arrest of the young man and the ongoing arrest campaign carried out by the security forces. The group stated that it had documented 727 cases of arrest since the beginning of the current year, including dozens of political activists and citizens based on their political affiliations and freedom of opinion and expression. Some arrests also targeted university students due to their student activities. The organization confirmed that it had documented dozens of torture cases, including 14 cases where victims openly reported being tortured during investigation sessions before prosecution.
Sudan is experiencing intense polarization between the two conflicting parties: the Army and the Rapid Support Forces, which is endangering the country’s youth. The ongoing conflict, now in its fifth month, threatens the future of the young Sudanese. The Rapid Support Forces have called in additional fighters from Darfur and Kordofan, using the escalating conflict to expand their control. The leader of the Army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has called on the youth and anyone capable of bearing arms to join training camps to fight the militias. This militarization increases the risk of prolonging the war, where none of the parties can decisively win. The danger now lies in the potential transformation of previously safe areas into zones of chaos, exemplified by recent violent events in Al-Fula, West Kordofan. A significant portion of the youth is engaging in the senseless war, with various motivations, including financial gain, tribal loyalty, and defense of land and honor. Observers fear that the mutual mobilization could escalate into a full-blown civil war, driven by mobilization and the grievances fueled by the war against specific communities.
The Iraqi government has repurposed some of its combat camps into health centers to address the growing issue of drug addiction, which has seen an increase in trafficking and usage rates. The Ministry of Interior has stated that the drug problem has become more dangerous than terrorism in Iraq. Incidents of suicide linked to drug abuse have been reported, with one case involving a 19-year-old girl who resorted to ending her life due to challenging circumstances stemming from her upbringing and forced marriage. The Ministry is now prioritizing combating drug addiction, taking precedence over counterterrorism efforts, and has converted old military camps into drug addiction treatment centers. These centers collaborate closely with the Ministry of Health in managing the treatment facilities. Measures have been implemented, such as requiring drug tests for government employment and driver’s license applications, to curb drug abuse. International efforts have also been made, including international conferences and high-level coordination among countries to combat drug trafficking. The Ministry of Health in Iraq has devised a plan to reduce drug abuse by establishing small health units dedicated to treating addicts in each province. Other measures such as tightening legal penalties for drug traffickers, raising public awareness, and ensuring the protection of its borders.
The Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization, is conducting Training of Trainers workshops titled “Future of Work Guide” as part of the activities of the “Youth for the Future” Project. The project aims to improve living conditions, economic, and social situations for Egyptian and immigrant youth. It seeks to enhance the skills of young people, increase their job prospects, and provide career counseling services within youth centers. The “Future of Work Guide” training covers a range of knowledge and skills that refine the abilities of Ministry of Youth and Sports trainers. These skills encompass labor rights and obligations, occupational safety and health in the workplace, conflict resolution mechanisms, community dialogue, non-discrimination in the workplace, and a variety of training and facilitation techniques.
The Abu Dhabi Youth Council organized the “Abu Dhabi Youth Councils Forum,” the first gathering of institutional youth councils in Abu Dhabi, coinciding with International Youth Day. All 79 institutional youth councils from government, semi-government, and private sectors participated to encourage cooperation among these councils and enhance youth’s role in shaping the Emirate’s future. These councils consist of members with diverse experiences serving national development. The forum included a dialogue session that discussed lessons, messages, and advice for youth regarding family, community, entrepreneurship, and sustainability.
The Giving Joy Foundation, led by young Jordanian woman, Farah Matalqah, participated in the University of Jordan’s first voluntary forum organized by the “Nashama” bloc at the University. The forum embodied values of cooperation and social responsibility inherent in the university’s youth, highlighting their role in achieving positive change. Matalqah shared her unique experience in higher education, as her foundation provided funding and financial support to students facing difficulties in affording university education, reflecting a strong commitment to youth empowerment and fair education opportunities. This experience had a positive impact on her life, emphasizing the importance of giving back to the community. She stressed that volunteering not only helps others but also enables influential individuals and volunteers to develop vital skills and gain valuable experiences.
TotalEnergies Qatar hosted a week-long internship program for students, providing insights into their operations and innovative projects. It has also participated in the Women in Energy Forum, highlighting their sustainable initiatives and transformation journey. A visit to the TotalEnergies Research Centre Qatar offered students exposure to ongoing projects and discussions with professionals. The company has been actively engaging with youth through educational events, focusing on knowledge sharing, career exploration, and leadership development. These efforts aim to inspire the next generation and contribute to Qatar’s vision of a knowledge-based economy.