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About

Our Mission

To promote the social and economic inclusion of young people in the Middle East

Our Focus

Demographic transitions across the Middle East and North Africa have led to an unprecedented “youth bulge” in the region, with nearly 30 percent of the region’s population now between the ages of 15 and 29. In making the transition to adulthood, these youth (shabab) have struggled with social and economic exclusion, facing poor outcomes and institutional barriers as they move from school to work and from work to family formation.

While the Arab Spring gave voice to the frustrations inherent in such exclusion, the movement's aspirations for inclusion have given way to continued political instability and economic hardship. Youth, despite being active drivers of change in the region, continue to struggle to secure social and economic inclusion in their communities.

What We Do

The Middle East Youth Initiative (MEYI) represents an active, international network of researchers working together to improve outcomes for the region’s youth. It serves as a hub of knowledge and ideas, providing research aimed at informing and enabling effective policymaking and program development focused on youth social and economic inclusion across the Middle East and North Africa.

To this end, the Initiative seeks to enhance our collective understanding of the socio-economic constraints facing young people in the region and to identify ways in which policy and programs can best respond to the changing needs of youth as they transition to adulthood. Moreover, the Initiative translates research into action through strategic relationships with policymakers, youth-serving organizations and the private sector. Together, we build on research findings to advance a positive agenda for youth inclusion in the region. With the right policies and an enabling environment, these shabab can be a source of regional economic prosperity and positive social change.



Egypt's Military Discourages Economic Change

17 Feb 2011

Ragui Assaad comments on the military's involvement in the Egyptian economy. This article was originally published by The Washington Post and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Egyptens økonomi kommer stærkt igen (in Danish) - Egypt's Economy is Strong Again (in English)

14 Feb 2011

Tarik Yousef comments on youth and Egypt's economy. This article was originally published in Danish by Ugebrevet A4 and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



A Younger Generation Speaks to Power

11 Feb 2011

Following Hosni Mubarak's much-anticipated speech on Thursday, 10 February 2011--in which he reaffirmed his determination to remain in office until September, despite popular expectations that he would resign--Edward Sayre talks about the demands of Egyptian youth for economic opportunity and social inclusion. This audio discussion originally aired on The Takeaway and is reposted here. The views expressed in this piece are those of the published author.



Egypt's Youth in Revolt

9 Feb 2011

Tarik Yousef discusses the disconnect between Egyptian youth and the ruling elites, highlighting the very real possibility that Egyptian civil society will 'thrive' in a future, democratic state. This article was originally published by The Takeaway and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Despite Market Fears, Regional Investors See Opportunities Beyond the Turmoil

8 Feb 2011

Paul Dyer considers the need for innovative, creative reforms to harness the economic potential and entrepreneurial creativity of Middle Eastern youth. This article was originally published by Knowledge@Wharton and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Cairo native Ragui Assaad comments on the Egyptian revolt against the regime

4 Feb 2011

Ragui Assaad discussed recent unrest in Egypt and the combination of economic and political exclusion fueling the youth protests. This article was originally published by The Examiner and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



High Food Prices and Unemployment Fuel Uprisings in the Middle East

4 Feb 2011

Tarik Yousef discusses the impact of rising food prices and economic challenges on youth frustrations in the Middle East, and the potential for these issues to fuel further protests throughout the region. This audio show originally aired on The Takeaway and is reposted here. The views expressed in this piece are those of the published author.



Youth Movements and Revolution in Egypt - A Talk by Ragui Assaad

1 Feb 2011

Ragui Assaad discusses youth movements and revolution in Egypt at the University of Minnesota. Video of this discussion was originally posted by the University of Minnesota.



Egypt President Mubarak Is 'Making the Whole Country Pay the Price'

1 Feb 2011

Ragui Assaad analyses the mounting economic consequences Egypt faces 'the longer President Hosni Mubarak refuses to resign in spite of demands by protesters to step down from power. This article was originally published by ABC News and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Empty Pockets Stoked Discontent in Egypt, Tunisia

1 Feb 2011

Tarik Yousef discusses how Egypt and other Arab states' preoccupation with security issues over the last decade drove the debate about economics and politics 'out of the halls of government and into the streets.' This story originally aired on NPR's All Things Considered and is reposted here. The views expressed in this story are those of the published author.



Behind the turmoil in Egypt: Angry young people who expected more

31 Jan 2011

Ragui Assaad discusses the frustrations of youth in Arab states. This article was originally printed in the Minnesota Post and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Mubarak's Grip on Power Is Shaken

31 Jan 2011

Ragui Assaad analyzes the impact of protests on Egypt's economy. This article was originally printed in The New York Times and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Choice of Suleiman Likely to Please Military, Not the Crowds

29 Jan 2011

Ragui Assaad comments on the appointment of Oman Suleiman as Egypt's vice president. This article was originally printed in The New York Times and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Tunisia's Dangerous Jobs Shortage

20 Jan 2011

Tarik Yousef discusses soaring youth unemployment in Tunisia. This article was originally published in BusinessWeek and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.



Experts Convene in Damascus to Review Policy Priorities for Middle East Youth

16 Jun 2010
Experts from the Middle East Youth Initiative network and partners met on June 13 and 14 to identify new priorities in youth research and policy in the Middle East. The meeting was hosted by the Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings, the Dubai School of Government, and the Development Research Centre at the Syria Trust for Development.


New Interactive Map: Taking Stock of the Youth Challenge in the Middle East

15 Jun 2010
The Middle East Youth Initiative has released a new online interactive map with key statistics on youth-related issues for all 18 Middle East countries, based on analysis by Samantha Constant and Mary Kraetsch. The map includes key statistics related to each country’s economy, demographics, education and youth employment status.


AmCham-Middle East Youth Initiative Meeting in Cairo Explores Partnerships for Social Innovation

11 Jun 2010
Ehaab Abdou and Samantha Constant participated in a roundtable entitled “Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Egypt: Building Stronger Public-Private Partnerships for the Next Generation” hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, in cooperation with the Middle East Youth Initiative, on June 9 in Cairo.


Third Commentary in Social Entrepreneurship Series Looks at Next Steps in U.S. Engagement

10 May 2010
To mark the release of a joint report by the Middle East Youth Initiative and Silatech, as part of the Taqeem program, we have launched a three-part commentary series on the state of social entrepreneurship and social investment in the Middle East.


Dubai Initiative Conference at Harvard Features MEYI Scholars

6 May 2010
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Edward Sayre, Christine Binzel and Daniel Egel participated in a youth-focused panel at the 2010 Dubai Initiative Conference at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.


Ehaab Abdou Speaks at 3rd World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists in Doha

22 Mar 2010
Ehaab Abdou, advisor to the Middle East Youth Initiative and leader of the Initiative's current social entrepreneurship research project, addressed the 3rd World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP) in Doha on March 22.


Experts Convene to Discuss Social Entrepreneurship and Social Investment in the Middle East

25 Feb 2010
On February 23, the Middle East Youth Initiative and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government convened a group of over 40 policy makers, international donors, private sector and civil society leaders to discuss the state of social entrepreneurship and corporate social engagement in the Middle East.


MEYI Event - One Year After Gaza: Securing the Future for Young Palestinians

22 Jan 2010
On January 15, the Middle East Youth Initiative and the New America Foundation hosted a discussion to analyze the prospects for young people growing up in the Palestinian territories, where nearly three-quarters of the population is under the age of 29.


Yemen and Its Youth Population: A Closer Look

5 Jan 2010
International attention has turned to Yemen and its fight against terrorism. Middle East Youth Initiative research points to the country's more deep-rooted challenges: including natural resource scarcities, persistently high fertility rates, and poor economic prospects for youth aged 15 to 29, who comprise 30 percent of the population.
Social Entrepreneurship in the Middle East: Toward Sustainable Development for the Next Generation
22 Apr 2010, Ehaab Abdou, Amina Fahmy, Diana Greenwald and Jane Nelson

Ehaab Abdou, Amina Fahmy, Diana Greenwald and Jane Nelson propose recommendations to facilitate the development of institutional alliances that need to take place in order to capitalize on social entrepreneurship, boost economic opportunities for young people in the Middle East, and prepare the region become more fully integrated into a rapidly changing global economy.

Youth Exclusion in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: The Impact of Social, Economic and Political Forces
25 Jan 2010, Edward Sayre and Samia Al-Botmeh

Edward Sayre and Samia Al-Botmeh examine three dimensions of the transition to adulthood by Palestinian youth: acquiring skills through schooling and training, finding employment, and forming a family.

Youth Exclusion in Yemen: Tackling the Twin Deficits of Human Development and Natural Resources
5 Jan 2010, Ragui Assaad, Ghada Barsoum, Emily Cupito and Daniel Egel

Ragui Assaad, Ghada Barsoum, Emily Cupito and Daniel Egel present a comprehensive overview of youth exclusion in Yemen.

Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East
8 Oct 2009, Edited by Navtej Dhillon and Tarik Yousef

Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East (Brookings Press, 2009), edited by Navtej Dhillon and Tarik Yousef, represents three years of research on youth exclusion in the Middle East.

Stalled Youth Transitions in the Middle East: A Framework for Policy Reform
8 Oct 2008, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and Navtej Dhillon

Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and Navtej Dhillon present a framework for policymakers to improve youth outcomes by addressing institutional distortions across sectors: from the education system to the employment, housing, and credit markets.

Inclusion: Meeting the 100 Million Youth Challenge
12 Dec 2007, Navtej Dhillon and Tarik Yousef
The key to inclusion is investment in better understanding of youth transitions in the region, and bridging the gap between thinkers and development practitioners.