Previous Debate

After the Arab Awakening: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Arab World

DATE & TIME: 31 May, 2011 / 06:30 PM
VENUE: Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

The events of the Arab Awakening are changing the face of the Arab world for good. The unprecedented wave of protests, sweeping the region from Tunis to Sanaa, is expected to lead to a fundamentally different Arab world from the one we know. But just what will this new Arab world look like?

Can Arab democracy even develop in the absence of a vibrant civil society? Are Arabs ready to embrace pluralist, participatory ideals? Is there a breeding ground for such a culture to grow and flourish? Over time, will a regional blend of democracy develop, distinct from the Western model? Could there be a Third Way, an Arab way?

Economically, the Arab world is facing the most serious challenge in its history. According to a World Bank Report, Arab countries must create 100 million jobs by 2020 to meet the needs of their youth entering the labor market by then. A colossal task, and one that must be addressed as part of the broader undertaking of re-defining the region.

How can the crippling levels of corruption in the region be addressed? Will the Arab world attract crucial foreign investment to foster its development? Can Arab nations overcome divisions and foster co-operation within the region? Will fair systems be developed to share national wealth and provide security to those in need? Will the region meet the educational needs of its youth? How can Arab universities close the gap with other regions?

What social and economic models will it embrace? What are the ideas that will re-shape the fractured fabric of Arab societies? Will the protests revive a lost sense of unity among the Arab peoples, possibly leading to a renaissance of pan-Arabism? What about the role of Islam in Arab politics? Will Arab states favor secular or Islamic state models; will they look towards Turkey or Iran for inspiration? Is the specter of Algeria's 1992 elections still haunting the region? In other words, what if Islamist parties gain power through democratic means?

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