If you flick on the television, it won’t be long before you find an image of an angry balaclava-clad radical Arab teen brandishing an explosive device, or an aerial shot of the destruction caused by clashes between the Middle East’s warring factions. All while death counts climb on the side of the screen. Dr. Bessma Momani argues we de-humanize Middle Easterners when we lose sight of the actual human beings affected by conflict. Instead of looking at humans, we congregate around numbers, ideologies, and governments.
In her most recent book Arab Dawn: Demographic Dividend of Arab Youth, Momani challenges the negative assumptions surrounding the region, and focuses on the positive changes among Arab youth. According to Momani, this generation is more cosmopolitan, educated, entrepreneurial, creative, and tolerant than their parents. The Arab Spring was an initial cry for help against dysfunctional politics. Future change will require individual effort on the part of youth and new policies targeted towards them. Momani describes the hidden potential of the Middle East’s youth.
Bessma Momani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She is also Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI), and has been Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., a visiting scholar at Georgetown University’s Mortara Center, and at the Amman Institute in Jordan. She has authored and co-edited over six books and over 60 scholarly, peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters that have examined the IMF, the World Bank, petrodollars, regional trade agreements in the Middle East, and economic liberalization throughout the Arab Gulf and the Middle East.