The Arab world today contains the largest proportion of youth in the region’s history, with over 100 million young people between 15 and 29 representing 30 percent of its total population. Too many of these young people are unable to find decent, sustainable employment, and consequently are prevented from realizing their full potential as productive members of society. Indeed, the failure of most Arab countries to effectively integrate this large group of young people—economically, socially and politically—has been a major factor contributing to the rise and spread of the “Arab Spring.”
With the right policies and enabling environment, however, the region’s “youth bulge” can be a source of economic prosperity as well as positive social change. Arab countries can learn from the development experience of other economies that seized the opportunity presented by a growing and educated youthful labor force. Timing is critical, as the demographic window of opportunity in the Middle East is expected to close by 2045. Until then, the region has the potential to take advantage of these conditions to increase incomes per capita, bolster savings and investment, and improve the wellbeing of its citizens.
With the renewed regional and global focus on youth in the region, governments, businesses, NGOs and the donor community have a historic opportunity to achieve sustained economic growth by investing in young people. Silatech stands at the forefront of these efforts.