Young Arab Voices: has the Arab Spring made us more polarised?

Saturday 18 October, 16.00 until 17.15, Hammerson Room, Barbican Eye on the World

Almost four years on from the start of the Arab Spring, it seems that there are still many obstacles in the way of the open, democratic societies hoped for by the protesters. But while we in the West know all about the major developments, especially in Syria and Egypt, the everyday experience of Arabs, particularly of the young people who were often at the forefront of the protests, has largely gone unreported.

One factor often cited as a leading cause of the Arab Spring protests is the emergence of a large, educated and aspirational generation of young people frustrated by ageing regimes. What is life like for these young adults today in societies where new tensions have been highlighted by recent events? Have the much-discussed divisions and tensions, in places which seemed to promise so much, disillusioned youthful enthusiasm for democratic change or is there still excitement and hope in the region? The Arab world is not a homogeneous set of countries, either, despite the way they appear in Western coverage of the region. There are many cultural and social differences between these states. The impact of the Arab Spring also varied dramatically across the region, too. In some places, longstanding regimes were replaced; in others, change was modest. How do the experiences of young people vary in these different countries today?

This session provides a unique opportunity to hear from a group of young adults from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, brought together by Young Arab Voices. What are their lives really like? What are the possibilities for democratic change in the future? Are their societies more divided and polarised since the Arab Spring? How do they react to the idea suggested by some Western commentators that Arab societies are not ready for democracy?

Listen to the debate:

Hafsa Bouazza
student in English Studies and Literature, Abdelmalik Essaadi University Martil - Tetouan; head of media committee, African Youth Organization

Omar Elfarouk
undergraduate student, American University, Cairo

Hella Grichi
writer and designer; co-founder Aspire to Inspire

Malek Ikhmies
youth worker, Jordanian Youth commission

Mohamed Amir Medjahed
vice president, Impact Foundation for Dialogue; post graduate student

Bruno Waterfield
Brussels correspondent, The Times; co-author, No Means No
Recommended readings
Tunisia: Where the Arab Spring Still Shows Promise

In the chaos of the Middle East, there is still one place that’s not a disaster zone. It is Tunisia

Carol Giacomo, New York Times, 6 October 2014

2013: the year the Arab Spring died

In the Egyptian coup, democratic hopes were snuffed out.

Tim Black, spiked, 23 December 2013

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