x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

11 killed, hundreds hurt in region-wide youth protests

As 100m young Arabs prepare to enter workforce and demand jobs, young people in three countries take to the streets to voice their anger at high food prices and youth unemployment.

At least eleven people died and hundreds more were injured as young people in three countries took to the streets to voice their anger at high food prices and youth unemployment.

The weekend protests are a symptom of economic and demographic tensions that will be a key regional issue for decades, analysts say.

In Tunisia, eight people died in clashes with police during protests in Thala and Gassrine. In Algeria, three young people were killed and 300 injured in demonstrations in M'sila, Tipasa and Boumerdes. In Saudi Arabia, 250 unemployed Saudi university graduates staged a protest in Riyadh, and said the demonstrations would continue until the country created jobs for them.



Discontent in many parts of North Africa and Middle East has the same roots




The protests in Tunisia began last month when a 26-year-old unemployed university graduate set himself on fire after police closed down his unlicensed vegetable cart. He died last week from his injuries. Well over half the population of the region is under 25 and youth unemployment is high - almost 25 per cent in the Middle East. How to deal with the aspirations of 100 million Arab young people about to enter the workforce is a political priority, analysts say.

Ahmed Younis, an executive at Silatech in Qatar and a senior analyst at the Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies, said: "Governments have to step up and address the acute need for economic integration if those young people are going to be there to stabilise their countries. That definitely has an effect on the political reality."