A UN report has warned of a new “Arab Spring”, saying young people struggling to find jobs and a place in society were turning to “more direct, more violent” means to have their voices heard. The report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) urged Arab governments to seize “historic opportunities” provided by a new generation of highly-educated, urban youth. Failure to help them to realize their potential could lead to a wave of protests across the region, as witnessed almost six years ago in the popular uprising that became known as the Arab Spring, it warned.
The report said youth unemployment rate in Arab countries stood at 30 percent, more than twice the world’s average of 14 percent. Almost half of young Arab women looking for jobs fail to find them, it added. Arab countries in the Middle East had to create as many as 60 million new jobs by 2020, the report said, adding their economies were unlikely to accommodate such a huge legion.
Saudi Arabia and several of its allies are facing major economic problems as their military adventures in Yemen and elsewhere are taking a heavy toll on their finances. The report said youths aged 15-29 now constituted nearly a third of the region’s population, adding the “youth in the Arab world are struggling to attain full social and economic inclusion in their societies.”
Young Arabs, the report said, “may prefer more direct, more violent means, especially if they are convinced that existing mechanisms for participation and accountability are useless.” “The wave of uprisings that have swept across the Arab region since 2011 has shown us that we can no longer treat young people in the Arab region as passive dependents or a generation-in-waiting,” said Sophie de Caen, the acting director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States in UNDP. The report predicted that by 2020, almost three out of four Arabs could be “living in countries vulnerable to conflict.”