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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Nov 30, 2009

The Brain Drain in the Arab World

The population of the Arab world is approximately 330 million. It is projected that this number is to double within the next 25 to 30 years.

Currently, unemployment is an explosive issue, specially in the most populated Arab countries. According to a recent report unemployment within the labor force has reached 15%. However, the percentage of unemployment differs from country to country. It is unfortunate that it is the highest among college graduates which is a challenge to the governments and the private economic sectors. This large idle number of university graduates are considered to be ticking bombs in Arab countries.

The World Bank reported that Arab governments need to create between 2010-2020 two million new jobs per year in order to accommodate those who are entering the market every year.

I have my doubts that the World Bank suggestion could be implemented for the following reasons:

1. Absence of a clear blueprint strategy for economic development in most Arab countries.

2. Meager foreign investments, specially in highly populated countries such as, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and Morocco.

3. Corruption that prevails both in public and private sectors discourage foreign investments.

4. Poor quality of education at all levels which is preventing progress and modernization.

5. Investment outside the region of oil money, specially from the Gulf region.

A recent study done by the Arab League (The Middle East, 9/2008) stated that the immigration of Arab college graduates to other countries are causing a' brain drain' in the Arab world. It has been increasing dramatically in the past few years. Seventy thousand college graduates immigrate to western countries every year. This number is almost equal to 1/4 of all college graduates, which has been estimated at 300,000 per year.

The study further reveals that the economic loss due to the 'brain drain,' is equal to $1.5 billion to the countries that have educated the immigrating graduates: fifty per cent of graduating doctors, 23% of engineers, and 15% of scientists leave the Arab world. Furthermore, the study maintains that 54% of Arab students who graduated from colleges in the West do not return to their country of origin. To illustrate this last point, 34%of active doctors in Britain alone are Arabs.

To conclude, I would like to stress the fact that there are hundred of thousands of highly educated Arabs in western and northern European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia. It is a big gain to those countries, and a significantly loss for the Arab world.

Is there a visible solution in the horizon for such brain drain?
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