Summary of Arab Human Development Report 2016

Youth development is one of the most important issues in the modern world. The youth is the foundation of a society and gives the ground for further development of this society. It is usually impacted by the elder generation but manages to dictate new tendencies, definitions, and directions in social life. However, the youth remains a vulnerable part of population since it comes under the surrounding events and other different circumstances that could influence it positively or negatively in equal measure while growing and forming. Thus, the youth development poses a real challenge especially in Arab countries. The young generation faces various obstacles in accessing services and facilities that are considered in the Western countries as normal and compulsive. The established religious traditions, attitudes, and different conditions do not allow the Arab youth to choose the way they want. Therefore, it becomes important to analyze and define what exactly influences the stagnation in the youth development and decide how it can be avoided.

Youth development in the Arab countries has drawn an acute attention in recent decades. Different UN agencies such as UN ESCWA (UN Economic and social Commission for Western Asia), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), ILO (International Labour Organization) etc. have undertaken the research to promote youth well-being and create conditions for their development and transition to adulthood (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.). All these investigations are focused on ensuring the progress in three main capabilities – long and healthy life, availability of proper education, and appropriate living standards. Providing these capabilities is the normal and required practice in developed countries.

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Arab Human Development Reports offers the conceptual foundation for the detailed observation of human development dynamics in the Arab countries and identification of the further youth evolvement direction. This framework is aimed at revealing and analyzing the most influential factors of economic, social, and political aspects and providing the concept of development strategy that will include extension of opportunities to exercise freedoms and life quality improvement (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.).

However, the implementation of such plans in Arab area is limited and restrained due to various political, economic, and social issues that are common and distinctive for the majority of Arab countries. The variety of problems encloses the issues directly or indirectly affecting the youth development such as availability of education and decent employment, accessibility of appropriate health care, freedom from discrimination, especially toward females, and other social items characterizing and determining the nowadays tendencies in the Arab region (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.). Taking into account social aspect, one can mention the upheaval in Egypt in 2011. Besides a range of factors, the main issues include a sharp population growth causing a “youth bulge”, urbanization, unemployment growth, quick expansion of education in universities that led to the emergence of a new population group called “the graduate with no future (Green, 2011). The major part of Egypt population are under 30 and 700 thousand of graduates almost fight for a job (Green, 2011).

Moreover, gender discrimination based on the traditional Islamic regulations limits gender equality and female empowerment in most Arab countries. Women do not have a right to participate in politics or economy. The whole share of GDP for women accounts only for 29% in comparison with 50 percent for men in developing countries. Furthermore, the poverty rate is also higher among females than males. In spite of a slowly growing support of women’s rights, legislative authorities still express hostility and discrimination towards females. The large gender gap in human achievements witnesses almost total exclusion of women (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.).

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On the whole, the future of a young generation is threatened by economic stagnation, high level of poverty, governance failure, fragility of most countries, and wide spread of violence (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.). All the problems can be resolved in a holistic way; in other words, implementing political, social, and economic reforms. The first can help to normalize the governance process and allow citizens feel safe and be legally protected. The second will establish and liberate social opportunities and capabilities. In turn, the third way will enhance two others since it is oriented at integration on the global and regional levels. These changes involve renovation of society with equal rights and freedoms not only written on paper but followed and respected in reality, extended education activities, women empowerment, maintenance, etc. (p.25).

Anyhow, some Arab regions have managed to achieve a relative progress but there are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, people enjoy longer lives, have become more educated, and are integrating in the outside world. Consequently, their expectations increased. On the other hand, improved Human Development Index is not enough without the possibility to exercise the freedoms, choices, and rights in reality (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.).

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Youth development in Arab regions represents a real challenge because it embraces normalization and stabilization of the situation in this area along with the creation of the conditions for building the healthy society that will have the opportunities to evolve and contribute to national and economic exuberance. Moreover, the establishment of such conditions is a difficult task in the environment full of injustice, discrimination, radicalization, coercion, restriction, and enhanced incline to Islamic traditions known by its unequal attitude towards women and their involvement in the legislative machinery. The failure of development is completely explained and justified by the factors mentioned above. Such a tremendous change of the established and deeply rooted social and political patterns may have indeed ambivalent and controversial consequences. Anyway, the Arab area should review the current regulations and rise superior to the emerged problems to open the path to the youth for development.

Specific Issues of Youth Development in the UAE

Despite the high levels of poverty, socio-political instability, expectations voicing, and other strongly impacting factors, the Arab youth manages to be more educated and knowledgeable due to the accessibility of the Internet where they experience connection to the external world and broaden their integration ability (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.). Though it relates mainly to youth population living in urban area, it eventually remains the hope to enhance the development since the youth makes 57% of the whole population in cities. Unfortunately, gaining knowledge is not enough and the young generation continues to complain about the quality of life and tends to express other more democratic values and attitudes then elder citizens. Hence, being influenced by the older generation, the majority of youth remains adhere to conservative traditions that also creates a great obstacle to development (Arab Human Development Report, n.d.). Transition into adulthood is accompanied by the particular UAE context different from Western countries and somehow from other Arab countries. Russell et al. (2005) conducted the investigation on youth problems in the UAE and decided that the development is impacted by Arab culture and religion, in particular Sunni form of Islam as well as social and economic changes. Indeed, the most essential factor is connectivity and group primacy, especially when it concerns the family based on patriarchal principles. However, the changing economic situation and globalization along with individualization somehow estranges from the traditional patterns. This might create difficulties in the youth development in the UAE. Obviously, if the UAE youth would follow patriarchic authority and allow family to control personal decision-making, independence could not represent the paramount issue. Furthermore, it is essential to notice that the definition of youth development has come from Western countries with a  different understanding of the same social principles in the area with specific circumstances. Also, one of the most impacting factors is a sharp separation of gender roles. It extends freedom and independence among young males and imposes corresponding restrictions on females.

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Comparing to the difficult situation in a range of Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates does not face such huge and overwhelming problems at the nation level. The research conducted by Russell et al. (2005) represents the interesting material based on the surveys and questionnaire. However, it is obsolete, and his approach is not completely suitable for investigation of the nowadays situation in the UAE. However, the authors managed to reveal the main problems disturbing the youth and gained notably interesting results. Limitation of freedom is experienced only by females, while males do not feel themselves under pressure. School hating is also more spread among girls than boys, and relationship between the sexes represents the subject of stronger female concern than male. At the same time, both young boys and girls almost equally feel the lack of family support and guidance (Russell et al., 2005). Apparently, the problems indeed are caused by the strictly divided gender roles, inner conflicts, and misunderstanding between family members, in particular, between parents and children. The latter are controlled and impacted by the older generation but not supported, which draws attention.

However, the year 2014 became the period when unemployment significantly increased. The Statistic Centre Abu Dhabi found that the number of youth between 15 and 25 increased by approximately 3% in 2012 (Croucher, 2014). The UAE government decided to resolve this problem by implementing army service for nine months along with those who serve two years. In comparison with 2005, the unemployment rates decreased almost by 3% in men till 2012 and about 4% among women (15.6%, 16.5% and 18% in 2005, 2011 and 2012 respectively) (Croucher, 2014). However, there emerged another problem consisting in the impossibility to find an appropriate job for young women considering that they cannot be a truck driver, security guard, or a door-to-door salesperson (Croucher, 2014). Thus, it makes sense to train females in technology or innovation spheres; otherwise, unemployment rates would grow.

As it was mentioned above, Russell’s investigation is somehow obsolete, and recently conducted surveys witness satisfaction with the quality of life along with the respect for traditions (2005). In addition, it was provided that the survey was created for the identification of hopes and challenges of the young generation (Rizvi, 2015). There were two age groups of respondents: the first was between 15 and 17, and the second – between 18 and 24 (Rizvi, 2015). Generally, evidence shows the positive results like happiness and optimistic views on the future life in the UAE. The first group indicated the happiness level of 8.9 points out of 10, and the second – 8.5 respectively (Rizvi, 2015). The government and other organizations demonstrate and ensure their significant role in the youth development. Furthermore, the future work of similar organizations is planned addressing the challenges and opportunities for the UAE youth.

Furthermore, the UAE highly contributes to the youth development. On April 12, 2005, the Government of Abu Dhabi established the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, a philanthropic organization enhancing the educational and skills development and provision of professional guidance. The Foundation was created to fund the projects and programs related to social inclusion, youth empowerment, and engagement through private and government sectors. In other words, the Foundation inspires and guides the UAE youth thus ensuring sound and stable future of the nation (Abudhabi e-Government, n.d.). Moreover, new branches forcing youth employment are opened nowadays. For instance, on 26 May, 2016, the Education for Employment launched the branch office in Dubai to involve the young generation in the development of competitive economy (Education For Employment Launches in the UAE to Tackle Youth Unemployment in the Region, 2016). Such organizations are focused on the provision of training for targeted job and entrepreneurship programs along with working with employers of different industries. The activity of EFE, in particular, helped 10 thousand of unemployed, supported over 2 thousand businesses, and engaged many women into the workforce.

Thus, in spite of high development of the UAE, sometimes it faces the problems related mostly to unemployment. Also, the nation’s tendency to support young generation is not perfectly developed yet. Compared with other Arab regions, the young generation in the United Arab Emirates comes across the challenges related to the traditional patterns of behavior in family and still suffers from female discrimination. In addition, there are some problems grounding on the economic development but they are quickly resolved by the government.


Regarding the fact that the youth development in the UAE has a bit different context, it should be enhanced in somehow other way. One should consider the necessity of building the supportive relationship between older and younger generations and economic development of the nation as the factor ensuring well-being and social safety of the citizens, particularly, the growing and maturing youth. The main part of the following recommendations is mostly oriented at the development of the youth entrepreneurship:

  1. Promotion of entrepreneurship education at all levels. Engagement of the youth into social and economic life should begin from primary school and continue at secondary and higher education levels. Firstly, it will help to involve more potential participants in the economic development process. Secondly, it will enhance the decision-making of the young generation towards choosing a career that would help to avoid unemployment. Furthermore, it would make the students and their families the significant contributors to the nation entrepreneurship (Youth & Entrepreneurship in the UAE, n.d.).
  2. Strengthening family support for entrepreneurship families. Involvement of students and their families into experiential activities would enhance the supportive relationship in the families and help the youth to decide upon a future career and direct all the efforts to reach the set goal with family guidance.
  3. Provision of youth interaction in economic and market opportunities. The youth should be aware of the key fields and segments of market witnessing the growth of the nation economy. Being supported by the government, the young generation will come across the opportunities in a particular emirate and in the UAE as the whole (Youth & Entrepreneurship in the UAE, n.d.). It is important to give the youth a possibility to share and actualize their ideas within the most profitable sectors.
  4. Strengthening mentor support. Sharing experience is a vital and one of the most valuable elements in the life of youth. Thus, the mentoring programs conducted by experts in certain business fields and supported by the government would make a significant contribution to the development of beginning entrepreneurship (Youth & Entrepreneurship in the UAE, n.d.). Furthermore, the youth would gain many benefits from such programs, obtain knowledge and confidence in their actions, and overcome the fear of failure. In addition, mentorship in the programs can reduce the risk of business discontinuance due to encouragement, support, and evaluation.
  5. Creation of entrepreneur-oriented networks. Such practice will help to come up with more opportunities in making business and find like-minded fellows for further business partnership. Besides bringing the new ideas, inspiration of young entrepreneurs, and awareness creation, these networks are focused on the constant improvement, integration, and potential creation of new jobs for other citizens thus broadening their opportunities.
  6. Focus on specific segments of youth. The holistic approach of the youth development should also take into consideration other social groups that are to be also involved in the developmental process.
  • Unemployed Youth. Unemployed youth should be supported by the government authorities to find an appropriate job. Entrepreneurship promotion has to be accompanied with training to enhance the capturing of strong potential entrepreneurs who only tend to find a job.
  • Despite the traditional vision of female role in the society, the government attempts to involve women into the economic development thus raising the value of female contribution in overall national well-being. However, the statics shows a large number of young well-educated women in the UAE but yet unemployed (Youth & Entrepreneurship in the UAE, n.d.). The promotion of entrepreneurship is required to enhance gender equality and develop mentoring programs.
  • Public Sector Employees. The particular attention should be paid to public sector employees because they are also regarded as potential entrepreneurs (Youth & Entrepreneurship in the UAE, n.d.). Experimenting with entrepreneurship practices ensures the safety of business net. Furthermore, the training on rewarding employees, in particular in government bodies, promotion of public sector job and making it more competitive could enhance much the development of youth and the nation as well. Moreover, such practices can serve as a good motivation for taking up entrepreneurship in the future. Also, mentoring could help to strengthen the confidence and start one’s own successful business after the previous job quit.

The youth development in Arab countries and in the UAE particularly encapsulates the range of problems derived mostly from traditional understanding of youth, adolescence, family, and so on. Without a doubt, economic problems influence the growth slowdown, most directly in the aspect of basic needs satisfaction. The comparison of the UAE and other Arab countries shows this difference. Regarding the details of circumstances, the Arab youth are grown up to emphasize that it is actually a religious basis that represents an obstacle in the youth development but in the Western understanding of this notion. Evolvement of the young Arab generation should be conducted in somehow different way because all the data and investigation show that the religion and traditions are nevertheless placed in the first place among young people. Thus, it makes sense to direct the development and all included social, politic, economic aspects to keeping the tradition but in the positive way of guidance, mentorship, and support.

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