When will Arabs realize their dreams and aspirations?

The Arabs are a proud people with a rich heritage but they have been let down by corrupt leaders

Samar Fatany

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There was very little to celebrate in the Arab world last year. The raging wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya destroyed homes, displaced thousands and killed many more. Terrorism was rampant, the threat of extremism and sectarianism was prevalent and discrimination against women continued. The region will remain in chaos and there will be no peace if we do not begin to seriously put our house in order and begin to admit our failures and shortcomings. Let the new year’s resolution be to put an end to conflicts and empower Arab citizens to pursue peace and prosperity and a future of hope and not despair.

Losing faith

The Arab youth today have lost faith in their elders and do not know where to turn. They remain vulnerable and that is why many are easy prey for ISIS and other terrorist organizations which provide them with false promises and hope for a better future.

The Arab world is faced with the challenge of keeping up with more advanced societies and learning from their experiences while keeping its own values and preserving its culture and Muslim identity. In more advanced countries, people of different cultures and different backgrounds have managed to live together without imposing their own convictions on one another and without compromising their own beliefs.

The Arabs are a proud people with a rich heritage but they have been let down by corrupt leaders. Arab leaders today have a responsibility to correct the mistakes of the past and end the conflicts and unrest that have destroyed peace in the Arab world.

It is very critical during these difficult years of turmoil to build character in our youth and give them the strength to persevere and overcome the threats and dangers within.

The Arab has always been known for his brave character and chivalry even in the most adverse situations. This is what we need to revive in Arab youth. They need to regain their pride and dignity.

Arabs do not have equal or adequate opportunities to excel. Many talented individuals with capabilities were not recognized in their own countries. However, they became successful surgeons and scientists when they were given the opportunity to excel in the West.

Every child should have the opportunity to receive a good education and every graduate should be able to pursue a career without any barriers or prior restrictions of gender, class, religion or ethnicity.

Young Arab men and women when they travel abroad are exposed to a new world of freedom and highly advanced societies. They interact with highly educated individuals who are engaged in scientific research and innovative discoveries to serve humanity and create a better world. The rule of law protects the rights of citizens and ensures that the law-abiding live in dignity and that criminals are put behind bars.

If you speak to any Arab student who has studied abroad, he will tell you that he wished his country could provide him with the life of freedom, opportunity and dignity that he has experienced when he lived abroad. Before the threat of terrorism and the rise of Islamophobia, Arabs generally, except for a few incidents, did not feel intimidated or alienated because of their color, race or status. Notably, the behavior of many Arab youth would change for the better during their stay in the U.S., Europe or elsewhere. One would find them more disciplined, more respectful and more appreciative of their surroundings. Why? Is it because the rule of law is not applied in their own countries? Or is it because they don’t feel appreciated and, therefore, they behave in a negative way?

Future generations

Realizing Arab dreams and aspirations will be more difficult for future generations. Many remain skeptical because they are convinced that hard work and determination do not guarantee success. The greed and abuse of power that is practiced by some in Arab societies is slowly eroding their hopes and ambitions. Inflated expectations have frustrated many and the modern wealth structure that perpetuates racial and class inequalities between people of different ethnic backgrounds is a source of discontent.

We live in a world where business interests control all matters and the wealthy decide our future. Something must be done to put a stop to policies that support the influence of the rich and the powerful with agendas and selfish interests.

Every state has an obligation to allow for political freedom as well as to enforce law and order and every business leader has to share the responsibility of serving society and addressing public needs. Hopefully, a serious commitment by all stakeholders to contribute to nation building can help in realizing the hopes and aspirations of all the lost and neglected Arab youth today.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Jan. 2, 2016.

Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.