Arab World Faces Major Long Term Problems

The World Economic Forum this month released a report highlighting the enormous difficulties that the Arab world currently faces and which are likely to get dramatically worse unless drastic change comes to the region.

While the developed world is rapidly aging, the Arab world still has a very youthful population — and a youthful population that is currently relegated to high levels of poverty and unemployment.

In the Arab world as a whole, 40 percent of the population is under the age of 14. Meanwhile, unemployment in the region hovers around 15 percent.

The Arab world’s population is projected to increase from 280 million today to over 400 million in 2020. The last thing the region needs is an abundance of young people without jobs and little future.

Of course things didn’t need to be this way — the Arab world is also one of the richest regions in the world thanks to large oil deposits and other mineral wealth. But that wealth has been squandered away and much of the focus of governments in the region has been on geopolitical issues such as the status of Israel.

The United Nations Development Programme also issued a report on the state of the Arab world, noting that the failure to grant women meaningful rights, endemic state corruption, and substandard educational systems all work to prevent the Arab world from lifting itself out of the dire straits it finds itself in.

Unfortunately, the Arab world appears unlikely to correct any of these problems in the near future.


Arab world ‘faces further stagnation’. The BBC, September 9, 2002.

First Arab World Competitiveness Report Launched by the World Economic Forum. World Economic Forum, September 9, 2002.

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