Chair: Basil Alsubee
TOPIC 1: The Stagnation of the Arab Youth
The Arab world, despite all of its sociocultural diversity, faces the same plight of an increasingly youthful population being met with education systems and economies that are far more lethargic in growth. About 60% of the Arab world’s population is aged 25 or younger, and yet unemployment rates in Arab countries are at about 50%. While primary and secondary education enrollment rates remain high in the Middle East, the education system’s stagnation has resulted in an ill-equipped youth unprepared for the post-modern global economic context. Brain drain rates steadily increase despite the desperate efforts of higher education reform, and many graduating young Arabs struggle to capitalize on their educations in most Arab economies. The result is a devastatingly high population of idle young Arabs struggling to get to work, start their families, and grow their respective states’ economies.
The “Arab millennials” belong to a generation of individuals that are set apart from their elders in numerous ways. Higher population concentrations in urban areas, higher internet access, greater access to primary and secondary education, higher literacy rates, and an unprecedented vibrant energy - they are, after all, the generation of the Arab Spring. These outside factors yield a generation that owns a unique sociocultural identity which is continuously alienated by most of its older Arab elite leaders. Sadly, the leaders of the Arab world continue to fail at tapping into the energy of its youthful population, causing the unemployment rates that we see today.
TOPIC 2: The State of Minorities in the Arab World
The formation of the modern nation-states in the Middle East, of which many now form the Arab League, along borders arbitrarily decided by colonial powers became the seeds that led to the position and divisions of minority groups across the region. While discussion of the Arab world, both external and internal, tends to assume a homogeneous ethnic and religious identity, the Arab world in fact contains a plethora of ethnic and religious groups. The minorities of the region tend to be characterized into either ethnic groups that are not Arab and/or religious groups that are not Sunni Muslim.
However, even the characterization of certain groups as minorities and as majorities are not as clear cut. Several academics have pushed for terms such as “social majorities” and “social minorities” that expands the definitions of groups beyond numerical statistics and towards the economic and social capital they occupy. Examples of these are not uncommon in the Arab world. The Assad regime that rule Syria, for example, are of a religious minority group, the Alawites, and thus constitute a social majority. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s regime co-opted the Chaldeans, an ethnic and religious minority, to form a social majority government made up of various minority groups.
A LETTER FROM THE CHAIR:
I am thrilled to be welcoming you all to MUNUMXXXII’s Arab League! My name is Basil AlSubee, and I’m pretty pumped to be this year’s director. I’m a sophomore majoring in History and Political Science who’s especially passionate about Middle Eastern topics and issues, as I lived there for over a decade of my life. Outside of all things Middle East and politics, I enjoy watching and talking about film, reading, and scuba diving whenever I get the chance! Alongside me is assistant director Ayah Kutmah, a junior double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in International Norms and Security in the Middle East. She is also passionate about studying Middle Eastern Politics and the refugee crisis, and interned this past summer at Human Rights Watch. Beyond academics, she enjoys traveling, reading new books, and fashion.
Ayah and I have put a lot of time, effort and love to make Arab League a fun and exciting
way to learn more about the Middle East on a personal level. It’s an area of the world where the surface level public discourse is often flooded by stereotyping, misunderstanding, and exoticism, and for that reason we really hope to make this a wonderful learning experience for everyone involved. Our topics are going to be “The Stagnation of the Arab Youth” and “Ethnic/Religious Minorities in the Arab World,” where we really hope to strike a balance between exploring cultural and political realities in the Arab world. Arab League is a relatively small committee made up of 22 member states, and as such, expect a relatively fast-paced, competitive and productive committee. Do not be intimidated by this if you’re excited to learn more about the Middle East, though, as the small size also makes it easier for a passionate delegate to stand out!
Looking forward to an exciting committee!