Opinion | Columnists

Arab youth's quest for identity

Education, employment and fair representation are essential to govern this technology-savvy group

  • By Mansour Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 February 17, 2011
  • Gulf News

Egyptians demonstrate in support of Egypt's uprising
  • Image Credit: AFP
  • What happened in Egypt is a source of pride for all the youth of the world.

What happened in Egypt is a source of pride for all the youth of the world. It demonstrated the desire of the community for a better life, in spite of the efforts of their corrupt government to spread fear in the society.

The January 25 Revolution comprised three stages and each one needs thorough analysis. The first stage was the unorganised street demonstration, which was interrupted by looters and emotional youth.

The second stage was where opportunists tried to use the revolution to further their own interests.

The third and the final stage was the pride stage where the revolution ripened and the youth demonstrated maturity and organisation along with the educated members of Egyptian society.

This section will strategically analyse each phase. The first phase showed that the lack of education and unemployment can be a source of uncontrolled uprising in a population whose rights have been usurped.

Also, the street boys and uneducated group of the society had put the whole revolution in jeopardy. However, the youth who are the leaders of the revolution, were able to control the situation in a mature and efficient manner, without allowing the corrupt government to take advantage of the situation.

The second phase started with the involvement of political groups and other nation states in the uprising — states like Iran and its endorsement of the revolution, which makes me suspicious of the group they support.

Once again, the youth did not allow such political groups or leaders to use the January 25 movement to fulfil their political agenda.

The third stage — the stage of pride — demonstrated the ability of educated Egyptians led by the educated youth to set out their vision for a new Egypt. This phase showed cohesion and sustainability in the society.

The lessons learned from the January 25 Revolution and the Tunisian Revolution are fourfold:

1. There is a new group in society — the youth which needs self-identity and acknowledgment.

2. This group understands the global world and has the ability to analyse issues strategically, without being swayed by emotions.

3. They use the revolution in technology in an efficient way to link themselves horizontally.

4. Due to their new lifestyles, this group has nothing to lose and is not attached to a life of luxury. Also, due to late marriages and decreased responsibility, they represent themselves and are willing to sacrifice a lot for their freedom.

From the above, the following can be concluded:

Leaders by trying to destroy the cultural structure of society under the name of modernisation create an unstable society structure that depends on a single actor. This benefits the leader in the short run. However, in the long run if that leader is unable to fulfil the society's needs and ensure fairness between individuals, the society becomes a volcano ready to erupt.

So, leaders should modernise, not erase, the cultural structure of the society of their state and add a sense of election and representation, in which the youth can have their say and create their identity.

Such an example is the tribal structure where the youth can select their tribal leader, or the district election in which the district society can select their representative.

Also, there should be a continuous education of the society by letting the youth understand their obligations. This should avoid the creation of a reckless youth who are unpredictable and immature.

What changed is the youth's need for identity, so households, CEOs of companies and leaders should anticipate and incorporate a gradual shift in their policy and avoid denial and ignorance.

 

Dr Mansour Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan is a lecturer at the American University of Sharjah.

Gulf News
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