Working to improve mutual understanding between the Middle East and the West
How does today’s younger generation see the past and the future?
This programme consists of a series of online workshops with participants aged between 20 and 40 years, from various sectors and from the MENA region, discussing how the Arab Spring and its aftermath have impacted their lives. The outcome of this project is a set of podcasts and a transnational support network.
The pro-democracy protests that swept throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in late 2010 were largely led by young people rebelling against autocratic political structures, dire socio-economic conditions and social inequalities.
Challenges remain immense in the region with the resurgence of tyrannical regimes, civil unrest and violent conflicts across several countries. Youth unemployment and lack of opportunities persist and contribute to young people’s loss of hope in better prospects.
Despite their strong engagement in street protests calling for change, young Arabs of all levels of educational achievement are not confident they can have a future in their countries.
The aim of this project was to give a voice to young Arabs to express their hopes and fears concerning the political changes unfolding since 2010. Participants from diverse communities in Arab countries were invited to reflect on how they live the political change — or lack thereof.
These sessions hoped to identify emerging perspectives on how young people view their relationship with new forms of governance, and how agency among young people can help to fuel change and bring about opportunities through entrepreneurship and activism.
We looked at forms of engagement through media platforms, new and old, and if/how this is contributing to giving a voice to the young generation amid all the uncertainty. We investigated how the Coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic crisis is exacerbating young people’s already vulnerable conditions and taxing their coping mechanisms.
The project started in early 2021 with three sessions aiming at participants in Tunisia, Lebanon, Sudan and Algeria (10-20 per country per session). Sessions were conducted virtually. A special fourth workshop on Jordan was conducted in late May.
The sessions gave participants the opportunity to comment on selected topics via guided questions. There was room for comparison and exchange between the different countries’ realities.
The session language was English. Follow-up interviews with the participants allowed additional depth of discussion in a safe environment, and these interviews were conducted in English, Arabic or French.
Who is involved?
The project was organised by Gingko, a charity that aims to promote dialogue with the MENA region.
A long-term objective of the project was to build a mutual support network among the participants. Additionally, the workshops themselves were recorded and made available as podcasts.