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Interests and problems of Arab youth


Syrian Youth (a sample)

Written by: Zuhair Salem*

Youth issue in the world is regarded as one of the significant priorities which come on top of the agendas of research centers as well as the agendas of thinkers and politicians. It also constitutes a significant priority for civil society organizations through the versified activities of these organizations, trying to accommodate such an additional ability possessed by youth and exploiting it, which would make youth more productive and more dangerous at the same time.

The prophetic tradition honored the young men, who establish their youth in obeying the Almighty, by having the same position as the just rulers under the shade of the Almighty's throne in the Day of Judgment. Nevertheless, the Arabs considered the youth as a sort of madness. They have decided that the youth is the stage of life which if it is not engaged with the good it would instead be engaged with the evil deeds.

Many speeches might be delivered as to how significant such a stage of life is, because it is one of the vigorous human sources of energy. It also must be exploited in the construction, and it must not be suppressed, diverted, ignored or wasted. This stage of life can be labeled as (human being +energy + ambition), and we can focus more on the additional capacity of youth as described in the economical world.

The prophet peace and prayers be upon him has directed the youth who are the owners of such an additional and temporary energy of youth to make the best use of it: he told the youth to utilize five things before five things one of which is “your youth before getting old”. When we talk about youth we are usually have both hope and fear from and against them.

To contain youth and consume their various capacities, people have created various activities and set up centers, clubs, theaters, cinemas in order exploit their capacities within a deliberate framework that consumes bodily energies and spiritual and intellectual aspirations. These centers design these activities trying to establish an imaginary world within which there is a conflict, each part is seeking to be in control. In such worlds the youth energies are discharged, and their instincts are satisfied rather than polished. The moral dimension is not of the objectives of such places that made youth consider the evil as good and made the human an investment tool to satisfy instincts

When we look carefully at the real situation of the Arab youth in general and the Syrian youth in particular, we find that youth lead such an abnormal life, contradiction, and not willing to take responsibility. They instead join the wrong paths.

This study endeavors to trace the interests of the Arab youth in general and pursue their aspirations, problems, concerns, and the obstacles hindering them from expressing themselves and achieving their goals. It is neither pessimistic about the Arab youth future, nor it depicts their real situation. Instead, it is an attempt to monitor the situation and change it into the better. The study takes in consideration that still there are many young people who are good.  In addition, any other objective study cannot say that youth are not positive even under bad circumstances.

Our youthful communities

Whereas the prevailing beliefs in the west have transformed the communities there into divided sects, our Arab and Islamic beliefs make promising communities. This fact gives youth in our Arab communities such an additional significance, and makes them constitute a strategic challenge for their nation, political systems and their enemies alike. Some people view this demographical dimension as negative, and hence; they say it is necessary to put limits to population growth, though it is against the construction of the family. However, some others say it is positive and supporting force to civilized construction.

According to a survey carried out by American Gallop Organization in April, 2009, youth under 15 in the Arab World make up one third of the population, those who are aged between 15-29 years make up 100 million out of the total population of 330 million. This means that children and youth of the Arab World make up two thirds of the Arab world population. This makes the governments of the Arab world required to secure one million job opportunities in the upcoming decades.

Birth control policies, with all its means, as presented by population and International Development Organizations Conferences as a solution for the population growth is escaping from responsibility. The Arab world political systems as well as the civil organization implement such policies because they are just following the west suit.

The Arab youth of which the Syrian youth are part, represent in my opinion a powerful factor as well as an essential condition for the success of renaissance project.

When we focus on the Syrian youth situation, which is a model to the Arab youth, we find that there are various groups some of which arouse fear and hence make us apprehensive. We are anxious about our youth, their identity, their present and their future. Such fear may not be the same as the international or the American fear. Of course, we are worried about the extremism and at the same time we are worried about the loss of identity and disorder in orientation and extravagant lives, corruption, and ignorance. The study endeavors to trace the interests of the Arab Youth by taking the Syrian youth as a model.

Interests and problems of Arab youth


Syrian Youth (a sample)

Written by: Zuhair Salem*

Firstly, youth of leisure and opulence

I want to confirm here that I do not want to denounce the situation of the Arab youth in this study. The study is conducted in a sense of responsibility towards all youth and their interests.

One of the youth groups which I have classified is youth of opulence and leisure which arouses worry and concerns. This group is not exclusive to the Arab world because the children are those who are aged until eighteen and youth those who reached the age of twenty-one.

According to the thinker Edward Cornish, world youth are corrupted.  Moral chaoses, absence of vision, and violence have befallen on the world youth instead of visions of futurity. Youth are now looking for the instant moment, satisfying pleasures or whims, and they are obsessed by such things.

One of the thinkers named Bill Moyron ascribes such things to the youth inability to think in such realistic and creative way. He also says that youth lack the vision to the future with hope and aspiration, and that they also suffer form the future phobia which makes them limit their thinking to the instant moment. For that reason they get into the future without being prepared for it and hence they find themselves in a great deal of problem.

Some of the Arab world youth are just looking forward to satisfying pleasures: they hang around streets; spend one's time in cafes.  They are very much interested in video clips, movies viewers, drugs addicted. In addition, they like none and they are inconvincible, unserious, and indifferent. This is one group of the Arab youth whose main interests are "where are we going to stay up tonight?", "Who are we going to stay up with?", "Which clothes are we going to wear?", "How are we going to be fit in this or that clothing,  haircut, car, shoes etc. They deliberately fail in the courses at university for they believe their university period is a pleasure. Such people follow up with the latest fashions in clothes, food and drink, perfumes and audios.

For that reason, many reports were written which say that there is secret American invasion in the hearts of Syrian (Arabic) cities. The reports say that there are clothes, food and drink, tastes which appeal to many young people who boast about having such things. This invasion breaks into our cities peacefully in which we find our children contribute in the destruction of our civilization. In the past, however, we have known Syria does not comply with any title that goes against the Arabic originality.

A new report by Mr. Waleed Azu'bi in Ba'ath newspaper on 7/1/2010 with regard to this group of young people:

“Young people without wills follow such consumptive fashions, greatly affected by the western culture. Therefore, you find them live in their countries while behaving in other communities' cultures as if they are aliens”.

Jai Solomon, another researcher in Wall Street Journal says:

"Consumptive policy in Damascus goes against Ba'ath ruling party.. Almaliki District is full of extraordinary stores. Youth in the trade center use their cell phones and drive their luxurious cars.”

Another person comments on this group of youth as they use a language named cocktail which is only understandable by this group. It includes words and terms form all the world languages about which they have all agreed; it belongs to their own world.

Another one concludes that the youth persistence on having American fast food indicates that "Uncle Sam" culture is going to prevail.

In his article in Ba'ath newspaper, Mr Zu'bi notices youth persistence on imitation as an indicator in their behavior. He also states that such an imitation habit for such youth group. For example, they wear tight jeans no matter how inconvenient these jeans are. Wearing these jeans, however, does not make the body elegant. Some of these youth make you get shocked, who you cannot distinguish the males form females, in that they look like sign boards, for they wear clothes on which there are pictures  and drawings of famous actors, etc.  He says that such pictures and drawings propagate for cultures that are totally different from ours. These people play the role of sign boards that propagate for sexism and deviation.

What is more worrying about this group of youth (leisure and opulence group) is imitating superstars, star academy and other useless episodes which have crawled into our communities. They, for example, imitate the western culture in sleeping, dressing, food, love and other non-Muslim values which seem as though they are normal such as sleeping with friends. This is just an instance of what Mr. Zu'bi wrote in Ba'ath newspaper which is also a sample of a conservative Arab sample.

The youth of this group have neither worry nor goals to serve their nation. When these people are asked easy questions such as: how many months are there in a year? Who is Yusif Al-Adham? What is the history of unity between Syria and Egypt ? Who is al-Mutanabi, Shakespeare? Who built the Amawi mosque? They give answers to none of these and hence they make you so depressed.

Although such group of youth is limited in number, and they are the children of wealthy and government officials, they represent a threat to our public. Not only they do harm themselves and their company, but also they have such a negative effect on their community. This group is actually anger-provoking, anger, unlikeable by the community.

The secret invasion breaks into political, security and economic families through such corrupted youth. This invasion greatly affects our children: sons and daughters without any person being anxious about that. Such a group of society youth is not directed by the society, even with guided care. Many Syrians know that addiction to drugs have reached most of the high class families. We have really to get scared of these youth the same way we are afraid that they are corrupted.

Such a group of youth can be characterized as group of wastefulness, and it does not belong to modernization in its neither ideological concept nor its practical and civilized reflection. Modernization, with these two dimensions, has no place neither in the life of Arabs nor of the Syrians.   Modernization as a philosophical and practical attitude is not just acting against beliefs and legislations but it also has its own attitude towards life.

The security of the state is being penetrated in Deir Azzoar, Damascus and on the Syrian cost by Mohammed Suleiman and in Damascus by Hah Ridhwan.


*Director of The Arab Orient Center



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