Dubai If one thing was evident at this year's Arab Media forum, it was the overwhelming presence of young faces. "This is a reflection of the Arab Spring, young people are more hopeful and seeking entry into professions that before they would not seek such as law, politics and media," Ahmad Al No'man, a university recruiter and media consultant, told Gulf News.
Arab youth face a huge challenge in dealing with the transition from despotism to democracy but are overwhelmingly optimistic about the future. According to a recent survey, 72 per cent of the Arab youth believe that the Arab world is better off following the uprisings and that the future holds great promise.
In the 2012 Arab Youth Survey, about 41 per cent say civil unrest and lack of democracy are hampering their progress, but about 62 per cent believe their countries are heading in the right direction. Also, the parents of these youth have begun to peel back decades of social and political conditioning and begun to encourage their children to pursue fields of study which would have otherwise been quite unorthodox for an Arab to study.
"Earlier, parents would discourage children to go into such fields as law, politics and media because they were viewed as non-practical or as tools of the authoritarian regime. The Arab Spring pushed the doors wide open and there is a surge of opening business, law and media programmes within universities in the Middle East as well as European universities are openly recruiting young Arabs to join their programmes," Al No'man said.
"There is nothing wrong with being an engineer or a doctor," he explained, "but the problem with focusing on one field is that the person will put on blinders to what is around him."
"While having a speciality is practical for a career, its not practical for a society," he said. "We have to ensure that our children's education is well-rounded so they can start viewing themselves as an active member of society as opposed to just a spectator," Al No'man added.
As for the future of journalism, Mahdi Mabrouk, the culture minister of Tunisia, said the onus is not only on the journalists but the civil society that is the recipient of the news.
"No party can bear the responsibility alone," he said.