Why Arabs Won’t Rise Up Anytime Soon

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Building on my humble knowledge, I get to have some observations and analysis of the world I live in. So here’s one for the day: Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon!

My aim here is not to push you  to lose hope on Arabs progress, but rather trying to shed light on certain elements of why are the Arab nations still way behind in terms of technology, economy, civil-rights, and politics, just to name a few.

Yes, I’m an Arab and I sadly got to the conviction that Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon. If you observe how nations grew into world powers you will realize that most of them have two main factors in common: Institutionalization and care for public good. Apparently, those two factors are missing (either one or both) from almost all Arab countries!

We’re mostly an individualistic nation: a nation formed of hundreds of millions of individuals who want to shine individually rather than as a nation. Collaborating together for the common good in a well-structured and institutionalized manner is something perhaps beyond the short-term wins that those individuals perceive.

We dislike systems, processes, policies, procedures, long term goals and the common good when it contradicts with personal gain and hence we try to avoid them as much as we could! So if we can avoid filling a form, not follow a procedure, rule, or policy (or at least get away with it), take a shortcut, or go for a quick win, we’d will go for it.

Examples of what I mean here can be as small as not standing in line whenever there is a queue to not stopping on a red light or following the road signs. It can also be as major as politicians not acting as part of an institution with a system, but rather acting like heads of mafias, bending and changing the rules, the governmental institutions and policies to fit their own needs and desires. The bigger problem is not that they do it, but rather no one actually holds them accountable for what they do. Many people accept such a behavior and thus the issue exacerbates with time. Even with the so-called “Arab Spring” and the people rising to demand for their rights, the same thing was done all over again, “leaders” took charge and bent rules to fit them and their “group”.

Just to be fair, there are some positive deviants from the norm, like in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where they actually plan years ahead, put systems and policy in place, and do proper enforcement and follow up. In Egypt, though millions go on demonstration, they leave the roads clean and ensure things are properly back in place.

Nevertheless, most of us are always chasing the quick wins, the individual recognitions, the shortcuts and the “what’s in it for me” attitude, at least for the time being. So in a nutshell, we’re mostly an individualistic nation, we produce endless shining stars but not a collaborative galaxy!

My recommendation would be to start learning the following, so we can perhaps start taking baby steps towards progress:

  • Willingness to learn, humbleness, and long term strategic planning from the Japanese
  • Willingness to put the nation before self, economic agility and discipline from the Chinese
  • Structuring and building systems, pragmatic thinking and financial wizardry from the Americans
  • Strength and value of team work and communal wellbeing from the Penguins
  • Perseverance, discipline and working as one from the Ants

I’m saying all of this not with a perspective of despair but rather a belief that everything is feasible and if we learn to change how we think and act, we can definitely do wonders.

 

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Aie Serve: Uniting Youth Through Service

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The bellow article is featured on Youth Action Net Website
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What began in Tunisia in December 2010 led to the mass demonstrations in Egypt starting on January 25, and now the rest of the Arab world is following. Lebanon is no exception. On February 27th, many Lebanese youth activists gathered for a demonstration against the sectarian system in Lebanon, demanding changes in both the constitution and the way daily governmental business is carried out.

This rising consciousness and refusal to succumb to the status quo is rooted in the same spirit that prompted myself and a group of friends to launch Aie Serve four years ago. Instead of staying silent, we decided to take positive action.  Aie Serve is a youth-based, youth-managed, and youth-funded organization dedicated to promoting a culture of volunteerism in Lebanon. Translated from Japanese, aie (pronounced “I”) means love.

The idea for Aie Serve came during the aftermath of the 2006 July War on Lebanon and resulted from the sharp polarization of Lebanese youth along sectarian, political, and religious lines. We started brainstorming ways of tackling this issue and agreed that three basic values were missing in Lebanon: Love, Tolerance, and Respect. We espouse love for others based on who they are and not which political background or sect they are from, while promoting tolerance and respect of others’ point of views and beliefs.

Over time, we started gathering more ideas and people, organizing ourselves while focusing on serving our community and society at-large. Aie Serve evolved from a group of friends, to a group of community-service minded youth, to a team and an organization. Examples of Aie Serve volunteer activities include book and clothing donation drives, reforestation and recycling projects, and assistance to orphans and the elderly.

In the last four years, we’ve experienced exceptional growth in the number of projects we do, our members, and our outreach. The impact we see on the ground is both fulfilling and inspirational. We find volunteerism is now contagious wherever we go. What’s more – in keeping with our mission – we find that caring for others is a universal value that brings people together and bridges divides.

Those around me know quite well that I am an optimist and a hard worker and so I believe that with a vision, hard work, and true commitment a small, dedicated group can achieve great things… and the biggest proof is where Aie Serve stands to day!

Afif Tabsh is Co-founder and voluntary President of Aie Serve. In 2011, he was named one of ten finalists selected for the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement.