If you flick on the television, it won’t be long before you find an image of an angry balaclava-clad radical Arab teen brandishing an explosive device, or an aerial shot of the destruction caused by clashes between the Middle East’s warring factions. All while death counts climb on the side of the screen. Dr. Bessma Momani argues we de-humanize Middle Easterners when we lose sight of the actual human beings affected by conflict. Instead of looking at humans, we congregate around numbers, ideologies, and governments.
In this talk, Momani will discuss the themes of her new book Arab Dawn: Arab Youth and the Demographic Dividend They Will Bring, in which she challenges the negative assumptions surrounding the region, and focuses on the positive changes among Arab youth. According to Momani, this generation is more cosmopolitan, educated, entrepreneurial, creative, and tolerant than their parents. The Arab Spring was an initial cry for help against dysfunctional politics. Future change will require individual effort on the part of youth and new policies targeted towards them. Momani describes the hidden potential of the Middle East’s youth.
Bessma Momani is a senior fellow, joining CIGI in 2004. She has a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international political economy and is full professor at the University of Waterloo.