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A year of hope? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The year 2012, with its limited sweetness and considerable bitterness, was an incredible and strange year by any standards.

Disorder, concern, fear and suspicion have been the most notable characteristics of the past few months. The world suffered an unprecedented lack of economic vision; historic states were declared bankrupt, entire regimes were toppled and giant firms were shut down. The Arab world is also experiencing a new image, whereby it has moved on from a state of creative chaos to one of primal concern. Yet amidst such a tense climate and unclear vision, there are those who remain certain of the existence of golden opportunities to uncover new wealth and resources.

The Arab world in particular is a focal point of primal concern because the media image being promoted about the region in a constant and continual manner – one which is full of tension, exaggeration and self-flagellation – apparently aims to bring about greater exposure and encourage a full revision of our achievements, words and actions. This may seem a noble goal in itself, yet over time this portrayal has led the Arab citizen feeling deprived of his will, helpless and unable to manage his own affairs. It is an extremely defeatist, feeble and desperate image.

Such a sorrowful scene will inevitably have a negative impact on the mindset of the youth of today and the generations to come, for it will encourage a lack of loyalty or affiliation to any identity, whether nationalist or religious. This is just the precursor to the hard and complex state of affairs to come. The great challenge facing Arab societies today is the task of inspiring hope in a truthful and logical manner, rather than selling illusions and consecrating the impossible. This is a very difficult task yet it is an important one.

In order to construct hope there must be a sense of justice and equality, as well as universal rights and commitment. In other words hope requires the practical, accurate and realistic translation of the notion of living in safety and dignity. These are the very same slogans we see raised by each successive generation simply because the need for them still exists. Yet the discourse itself is corroding as a result of the cancer of injustice, the virus of corruption, the bacteria of discrimination and the epidemic of racism, all of which are social ills that can ravage nations and states destructively.

Countries and societies are celebrating the new year and looking forward positively to the future. On an individual level, many people are setting themselves a series of hopes and targets to achieve, whereby they review what they have done in the past and what they have not. This is the difference between vibrant societies and lethargic ones. A new year has come, but unfortunately, it seems like it will be another wasted opportunity. The Arabs will miss the chance for advancement, reform and development, and they will remain at the bottom of the global classification index.

These words themselves may sound like self-flagellation and unfortunately the reality is frustrating. Nevertheless the glimmer of hope, no matter how small, must be maintained. All we can do is hope.

Happy New Year

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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