Three years ago, Arab youth seized the initiative and stormed news headlines across the globe by demonstrating in the streets for regime change, contributing to transitions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and to new constitutions in Morocco and Jordan. But what has happened since? Unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the highest in the world and largely a youth phenomenon. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up at least half of the total number of the region’s unemployed. Moreover, at about 25 percent, the youth unemployment rate in MENA exceeds that of any other region in the world.
Youth voices also remain conspicuously absent in public policy making in MENA. On April 1st, 2014, the World Bank Group and the Center for Mediterranean Integration will host the Arab Youth and Development Debate in the Tunisian capital, Tunis. Moderated by Aljazeera’s Abderrahim Foukara, the event will gather youth activists from across the region to explore the reality behind the statistics and tackle the critical question: Have young people reaped the fruits of the Arab Spring?