Future Arab youth leaders want a say [Archives:2006/1009/Front Page]

December 21 2006

By: Khalil Al-Khaubari
SANA'A, Dec. 20 ) Arab youth want their rights in the political and decision-making process and demand improved living standards.

“Poverty, unemployment and delinquency are results of bad political and economic situations in Arab regions. Governments should include youth in their politics and decisions,” said Nabil Majeed from the Social Democratic Forum in Yemen during a three-day regional meeting of the Arab Integrated Network held Dec. 17-19 in Sana'a.

The Arab Integrated Network includes coordinators from 12 Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Morocco.

The meeting was within the youth project and human rights challenges in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.

“It's so pleasing that Arab youth have a unified goal and are working together to solve their problems and achieve their goals,” said Ahmed Badawi from Egypt, “With a unified vision and cooperation in implementation, we can solve youth problems at the Arab national level.”

Idrisi Jawhara from Morocco considered the event a push forward in the youth development process. She also called upon female youths to take up their expected roles in such process.

If not enacted, participants considered the conference and its recommendations useless and unreliable. “Youth must be skilled and qualified. They should be given administrative and personal skills in order to be active and productive at the same time,” said Mohammed Al-Maskati of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and General Secretary of the Arab Network.

Participants were considered the network's coordinators in their respective nations, undergoing high-standard examinations by network founders to assess their activities regarding youth issues. They must be neutral – neither for government nor the opposition – and their thesis should be objective and practical. “We depend upon funding organizations to evaluate the level of activities the coordinators achieve in their countries,” Al-Maskati noted.

The Arab Integrated Network is self-financed and accepts no financial support from any government or political party. As Al-Maskati clarified, “We refused $300,000 from the U.S. State Department to support the network. We depend on human rights and nonaligned organizations' support.”

Youth economic, social and cultural situations

The meeting concluded with papers discussing the difficulties youth face in their various countries, as well as recommending that governments improve their situations and give them more opportunities in the decision-making process.

Challenges differ from country to country; for example, the good economic situation in Kuwait helps life to be free of obstacles, but Palestinians experience the opposite.

“As reported by the United Nations, Kuwait has no problem regarding poverty or insufficiency. Moreover, it's considered one of the nations excelling at the level of NGOs,” stated Laila Al-Sarraf from Kuwait.

She added, “A political student gathering led by youth from schools and universities held many activities, the last of which was dissolving Parliament.”

On the other hand, Wassam Al-Bargothi from Palestine sees the situation of Palestinian youth deteriorating due to economic and political factors. “Youth corporations lack financial resources, so they can't fulfill their programs. Israeli policy is to target youth in general because they play a major role in resisting occupation of Palestinian land,” he noted.