Coping With Uncertainty: Youth in the Middle East and North Africa

In This Review

Coping With Uncertainty: Youth in the Middle East and North Africa
Edited by Jörg Gertel and Ralf Hexel
Saqi Books, 2018
400 pp.

This study presents the results of a 2016 survey of Arabs aged 16 to 30 in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, and the Palestinian territories, as well as Syrian refugees in the same age group in Lebanon. The organizers interviewed 1,000 people in each place. The survey leaves out some important countries, but its results offer cause for hope. Although most of the respondents had negative views of the 2011 uprisings that formed the Arab Spring, two-thirds of them expressed optimism about the future. The vast majority wanted to help the less privileged. They respected their families more than any other institution. (Their countries’ respective militaries came second.) And although they reported having little respect for political parties or parliaments, they still wanted to participate in civic life. Two-thirds professed strong religious faith, but most of them regarded religion as a personal matter. In the final chapter, Mathias Albert and Gertel compare those surveyed with their German counterparts. The two groups have similar levels of optimism, they find, but German youth are much more interested in formal politics than are young Arabs.

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