While the attention of the international community is focused on the political instability and social unrest, the socioeconomic situation in the Arab region is advancing. Economic and social issues in the region have often been highlighted as the underlying cause of the Arab Spring. The unemployment rate in the ESCWA region – which consists of Arab countries and Palestine – is one of the highest in the world. Looking back, we see that political frameworks, which suddenly became a target of political and social unrest during the Arab Spring, had once stood for people’s aspiration for upward social mobility. In recent years, however, the younger generations’ economic and social aspirations increasingly result in disappointment. Rigid social stratification made them unable to find upward social mobility when entering domestic labour markets. Wasta, which implies ‘connections’ in Arabic, was often cited as the most important factor in landing a decent job in times of such limited opportunity. If the Arab Spring stands for the Arab transition
of economic and social affairs, it carries high hope for a new society which fulfils people’s aspirations for upward social mobility. However, the Survey of Economic and Social
Developments in the ESCWA Region 2011-2012 (hereinafter referred to as the Survey)
found that the economic and social reality remains deeply uncertain.