Young People Take to the Streets – The Arab Spring and its Present Impact

Nov 30, 2022

In the early 2010s in the Middle East began a revolution which would not die out but come and go in waves. The movement gained prominence in the spring of 2011 which led to the term, ‘Arab Spring’. However, the socio-political impact of this movement has transcended the seasons for all these years.

In the early 2010s in the Middle East began a revolution which would not die out but come and go in waves. The movement gained prominence in the spring of 2011 which led to the term, ‘Arab Spring’. However, the socio-political impact of this movement has transcended the seasons for all these years.

The protests began in the nation of Tunisia, and led to its despotic president’s downfall after twenty years of arbitrary and corrupt governance. These were largely pro-democratic movements by the relatively younger demographic in response to low wages, rising unemployment rates and a paucity of hope for a better future. The increasing unemployment rate led to a greater fear of poverty within a crumbling economy and lack of opportunities.

The youth unemployment in the MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) region on the eve of Arab Spring was 25%, one of the highest in the world. This inspired uprisings which spread across other Arab countries of Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

These movements received strong opposition from the authorities and were portrayed to have lost their ground in the following years. The problems persisted despite the fading of protests. In the decade before the second wave of Arab Spring, the authorities did not implement any measures to bring about social and economic reforms to prevent any future agitation among their citizens. Thus began another year in Arab revolutions.

The second wave involved a fight on the same issues which were left unresolved almost a decade ago.

Youth unemployment in the region had only increased with the years, and the economies could not provide for better opportunities. In Arab region, there is a demand and supply mismatch with the youth securing diplomas and a persistent lack of their use. There is a larger labour force than there are job opportunities.

It must be noted that youth unemployment and adult unemployment are not the same. It comes with a burden of transition period between two parts of their lives, and causes them to be stuck in the middle.


The Arab Spring was the result of collective suffering of the youth trapped in a dead end, held back from achieving their utmost potential. The fight was not one against unemployment and the poverty that follows, but one for a life of dignity.


The Arab Spring: A Year Of Revolution : NPR

In An Uncertain Future: Youth Frustration and the Arab Spring, M. Chloe Mulderig argues that the socio-cultural motivations and frustrations of the Arab youth were the underlying cause of the regional unrest, and these social and economic problems will remain a hindrance to legitimate democratic reform unless they are addressed. It was the angry and unsatisfied youth which led to manifestation of the Arab Spring.

As a result of uprisings between 2018 and 2020, Iranian Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi resigned, 2018 Tusinian budget was repealed, Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigned, in Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned, in Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned and there was an ouster of Omar al-Bashir in a military coup d’état in Sudan.

The elemental characteristic shared by all these protests in MENA countries is the lack of trust in political leaders.

  • Very few young people hold decision-making positions due to lack of political experience, and are consistently denied opportunities to gain this experience.
  • There is a huge void in this region when it comes to young people in traditional politics. The region, therefore, requires active participation of the youth in national politics and governance to truly address the issues faced by them.
  • Political participation of the youth is a necessity when the major causes of unrest are the improper policies which are pervasive to youth development.
  • To combat the lack of trust in political leaders, the youth need to take command and formulate policies which could tackle the demand and supply mismatch.

A youth centric policy making requires younger leaders to provide perspective and to increase representation of the new generation in national governance. They need to enforce both short term and long term policies concerning young people. A majority of the causes which led to Arab Spring could be tackled by a greater participation of youth in the political and social realm. The region needs better policy making and an education system for skill development to tackle youth unemployment, formulated by taking their interests and needs into account.

Another way by which youth participation must be increased is entrepreneurship and self employment. Young people must be encouraged to take lead through policies which could support their startups financially. For this, the financial sector must be strengthened. These steps would reduce youth unemployment. and foster economic growth.

The Arab Spring brought the youth on the streets fighting for their rights. In the aftermath of the revolution, drastic changes are taking place in the national politics of Arab countries. The youth are no more disconnected to the political process like they were during the despotic regimes of political leaders of the past.

The youth in the MENA region share a collective experience of authoritarian regimes and exploitative policies. It is imperative that youth in the region engages in active politics, because it is in no way isolated from their personal lives.

Their personal quests of education, employment and better standards of living are at stake and they must claim their rights of representation and decision making in governance of their countries.