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    Middle Eastern Youth: Challenge Or Opportunity?
    By Anna Ohlden | December 24th 2007 08:30 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, December 24 /PRNewswire/ --

    - The Dubai School of Government and Wolfensohn Center at Brookings Announce the New Middle East Youth Initiative Web Site and Working Papers

    The Dubai School of Government (http://www.dse.ae ) and the Wolfensohn Center for Development (http://www.brookings.edu/wolfensohn.aspx ) at Brookings announced the launch of the new Middle East Youth Initiative (MEYI), Web site: http://www.shababinclusion.org, and the results of six new working papers on topics ranging from analysis of the state of youth in specific Middle Eastern countries to the economics of marriage.

    The Middle East region is currently experiencing an unprecedented "youth bulge." Over 30 percent of its population - or 100 million individuals - is between the ages of 15 and 29. This is the highest proportion of youth to adults in the region's history.

    In a region beset by economic and political challenges, the presence of a large number of young men and women is often linked to social unrest and instability. Youth unemployment rates are higher than any other region - 25 percent in the Middle East, compared with a worldwide average of 14 percent - and the majority of young people face significant challenges transitioning from education to employment to family formation.

    However, this "youth bulge" is also a demographic gift, offering a unique window of opportunity for the region to capitalize on its large and youthful workforce before it starts to age. Middle Eastern countries can follow in the footsteps of the many Asian economies that took advantage of their fast-growing working populations and turned their "youth bulges" into a demographic gift. Timing is critical, though, as the Middle East's window of demographic opportunity (a large working-age population with a small dependent population) is expected to close by 2045.

    The Middle East Youth Initiative was launched jointly by the Dubai School of Government and the Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings in July 2006. The Initiative seeks to advance understanding of economic and social issues affecting youth in the Middle East, and to promote regional efforts aimed at greater youth inclusion through targeted policy recommendations. Youth inclusion is the availability of opportunities for youth to become fully integrated into society through quality education, decent employment, affordable housing and the power to shape their communities.

    James Wolfensohn, founder of the Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings and former World Bank president said, "No task is more urgent than providing hope to the 100 million young people between the ages of 15 and 29 in the Middle East. If we provide them with the opportunity to lead constructive lives, they will build an exciting area of prosperity, stability and hope."

    Nabil Alyousuf, Executive President of the Dubai School of Government, said, "Our engagement with the Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings is an extension of our commitment to producing incisive, relevant policy research that will improve the lives of people throughout the Arab world."

    Tarik Yousef, Dean of the Dubai School of Government and Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, stressed the importance of "education that meets the demands of the modern labor market, quality jobs to meet the expectations of youth, and policies that strengthen their abilities to become independent economic actors." He added that this will require "long-term, committed partnerships between government, civil society and the private sector [in the region]."

    The Middle East Youth Initiative's new Web site offers original research and other information in Arabic and English, as well as interactive blogs, facts about youth exclusion, in-depth country spotlights from the region and personal stories of Middle East youth. Future MEYI events, such as the January 7 Brookings public briefing "From Oil Boom to Youth Boon: Tapping the Middle East Demographic Gift", are also highlighted on the site.

    About the Dubai School of Government

    The Dubai School of Government is a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world. Established in 2004 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, the School aims to promote good governance through enhancing the region's capacity for effective public policy.

    Toward this goal, the Dubai School of Government collaborates with international institutions such as Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in its research and training programs. In addition, the School organizes policy forums and international conferences to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote critical debate on public policy in the Arab world.

    The School is committed to the creation of knowledge, the dissemination of best practice and the training of policy makers in the Arab world. To achieve this mission, the School is developing strong capabilities to support research and teaching programs including

    - applied research in public policy and management;

    - master's degrees in public policy and public administration;

    - executive education for senior officials and executives; and,

    - knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers

    For More information visit: http://dsg.ae

    About the Wolfensohn Center for Development

    The Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution was founded in July 2006 by James D. Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank and member of the Brookings Board of Trustees.

    The Wolfensohn Center for Development analyzes how resources, knowledge and implementation capabilities can be combined toward broad-based economic and social change in a four-tier world.

    The following principles guide the center's work:

    - A focus on impact, scaling-up and sustainability of development interventions

    - Bridging the gap between development theory and practice to bring about action

    - Giving voice to developing countries, with high level policy engagement and broad networking

    - A rigorous, independent research approach that draws from multiple disciplines

    - Working in partnership with others

    For More information visit: http://www.brookings.edu/wolfensohn.aspx

    For more information please contact Ms. Selma Nagbou, E-mail: selma.nagbou@dsg.ae Tel: +971-4-317-5517

    For more information please contact: Ms. Selma Nagbou, E-mail: selma.nagbou@dsg.ae, Tel: +971-4-317-5517