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Future Anticipations - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Fortune-telling is a disapproved practice and without doubt, clairvoyants are liars even when truthful. However, there is a method of analysis which is quite common in the western world called Futurology, which depends upon the assessing of trends and major currents that may occur in the future based on indicators, facts, events and research.

Perhaps one of the most renowned figures in this field is the American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler who wrote a series of important books, most notably ‘Future Shock’ and ‘The Third Wave’, which both predicted the information technology revolution, change in consumer patterns and the emergence of media and intellectual capital as influential and active economic players.

John Naisbitt is also another prominent writer in this field. In his book entitled ‘Megatrends’, he predicted the rise of the Far East as a strong economic power and the consequences of this upon political and economic decision-making on the global level.

On the Arab level, there are only few publications that look at this important and vital field for example some attempts by Egyptian writer Raji Inayat. Currently, we are in need of analyzing the future illustrating upon the major trends in the Arab world. There are those who strongly believe in the model of city versus state; in other words they believe that that the model of a large city is growing at the expense of the larger state. There is the successful and dazzling example (imitated by many) of Dubai, consecutive success stories of which are striking and fascinating. There is also the recent example of Gaza that shows an “area” at the expense of the state as a whole.

There is a need to carefully evaluate the impact of the youth that makes up the largest segment in society and has the fastest growing impact in the Arab world upon political, economic and cultural decision-making. A lot of pressure continues to be exerted to modify and develop education owing to the needs of the youth who suffer from unprecedented levels of unemployment causing this part of society to compare their education and status quo to that of their counterparts in other countries. The youth also have an impact upon trade, economics and cultural patterns and dealing with other nations and cultures. The more the youth favor specific commodities, the closer the states that produce these commodities get to manufacturers in those countries.

It is frightening and dangerous to believe that the Arab world today will be in the same situation in twenty years time. The countries of the Maghreb region are expected to establish closer ties with Europe owing to their growing dependence upon the European market. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are growing in a similar way but are far from homogeneity and integration. Fierce competition may be a waste of time and money. There are growing differences between Egypt and Jordan on one hand, and Iraq, Syria and Lebanon on the other.

Reading the future of the Arab nation carefully and honestly depending on information and existing indicators shall eliminate the mist that obscures the vision of the people and limit unpleasant surprises if it is prepared for in a sound manner. If the Arabs have failed in the past then it is now time to think about the future.

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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