As we focus our attention on plummeting oil prices and dwindling reserves, we overlook what is far more decisive to our region’s success. The Middle East’s greatest natural resource and power source, is not in its oil or its gas but in its predominantly young population. Home to one of the highest concentrations of young people in the world, with more than 60 percent of our population under the age of 25, the fuel of our future is in abundant supply.
But just as fuel powers, it inflames. And so too, within our youth is both our region’s greatest promise and also its greatest peril. It is when we channel these enormous trapped energies of our societies toward productive pursuits, when we “refine” and enrich, through quality education systems, not just our fuels but our young people’s minds and engage them in our region’s leadership.
It is when we empower young people, like this, that they ignite the propeller engines of our progress, rather than set our worlds ablaze. It is when we empower young people like this, that we feed lifeblood into the pipelines of our nations; feed dynamism into societal circulation, rather than have it spill wastefully at the behest of radicalization.
And so we transform our societies from exploding with dynamite to exploding with dynamism. And so we set our world alight rather than set it ablaze.
That we may tell those who tell us we are home to the highest reserves of fuel power in the world. ‘Yes, that’s right.. in our youth!’
By Sarah Fahed Abushaar