The Economist has just published a fairly comprehensive report on the Arab world (Middle East and North Africa). Though much of the information can be obtained elsewhere and there’s little if anything new to be gleaned, the overall thesis together with some telling insights (mainly from Egyptians) on the broad range of social, political and religio-cultural changes taking place in the region, is worth reading about. Here’s a brief snippet:
‘…[A] great social upheaval is under way, with far-reaching consequences.’
In almost every Arab country, fertility is in decline, more people, especially women, are becoming educated, and businessmen want a bigger say in economies dominated by the state. Above all, a revolution in satellite television has broken the spell of the state-run media and created a public that wants the rulers to explain and justify themselves as never before. On their own, none of these changes seems big enough to prompt a revolution. But taken together they are creating a great agitation under the surface. The old pattern of Arab government—corrupt, opaque and authoritarian—has failed on every level and does not deserve to survive. At some point it will almost certainly collapse. The great unknown is when.