Spuckler born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1963. After high school
joined the Marines and served in Camp Pendleton, California.
He later extended his enlistment to serve at the United States
Embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Bonn, West Germany. After
leaving the Marines, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree
in history from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a Master
of Arts in international relations from St. Mary's University
in San Antonio. After several years in the corporate world,
he retreated to become a bicycle mechanic and book reviewer.
For more reviews, check out his blog.
Arab Dawn: Arab Youth and the Demographic Dividend They Will
Bring by Bessma Momani is look at the current youth of
the Middle East and North Africa. Momani is Associate Professor
in the Department of Political Science at the University of
Waterloo and the Balsillie
School of International Affairs in Canada. She is Senior Fellow
at the Centre For International Governance and Innovation (CIGI)
and a regular media analyst and contributor to national and
international media on the Middle East and on global economic
to Saudi Arabia in the winter of 1984 to serve as an embassy
guard. It was culturally a huge change from Camp Pendleton,
California, and a confusing change as well. Waiting for the
flight out of D.C.I met a Saudi air force officer and his wife
and child. I had many questions and they were happy enough to
talk to me. We were separated on the flight and once arriving
in Jeddah I wanted to say goodbye and thank you. But by then
both he and his wife were out of western clothes and neither
had any more to say to me. Crossing into Saudi airspace had
changed everything. It was like there were two worlds. I learned
there was a private world and public world.
much has changed. I read about women defying the law and driving
cars in protest. Young adult males forming hot rod car clubs.
Perhaps, most surprising is a female Palestinian living in Mecca
who Tweets to me on a somewhat regular basis in life in Saudi
Arabia. All these things would have been impossible in the mid-1980s
when I lived in Riyadh. There is a change in the Middle East
and it’s being carried out by the youth. The younger generation
is exposed to social media, satellite television and higher
education. Momani notes that there are more youths enrolled
in universities in war-torn Palestine than in Hong Kong. Higher
education is growing throughout the Middle East as public and
private universities set up. There was a very real worry of
brain drain in the 1980s as the youth left their home countries
to study abroad and decided to stay.
the 1970s, the Arab world was much different as governments
tried to instill the idea of citizenship on a population not
used to that concept. The 1960s and 1970s were eras of great
growth and liberal experimentation that slammed shut in the
1980s. Now it is opening again as governments seem powerless
to stop the flow of information and are weakening against an
educated, urban population. There is a growing demand for more
freedom and still a clinging to religious values. The religious
values seem to bring order to society without a need for heavy-handed
West seems to see only the negative aspects in the region. The
old newspaper adage of “If it bleeds, it leads”
has found no shortage of blood in the Middle East. The West
also finds symbolism over substance in its reporting. Ask an
average American what the headscarf-hijab means and most will
say it’s religious oppression against women. Yet many
women visiting or living in Western countries still chose to
wear a head covering as a matter of choice and heritage. Even
in the suburbs of Dallas, where I live, it is not unusual for
women to wear a hijab -- of course, it is much more stylish
than the traditional black scarf. It remains a sign of identity.
Women have been gaining ground in areas that do matter. Would
most Americans know that the women outnumber men in Saudi universities?
gives the reader an across the board look at the Middle East
and the changes that are being generated by the youth. There
is a move towards a more liberal lifestyle and openness in society.
Many governments know that they cannot repress change without
risking revolt as seen in Egypt. No one would have predicted
that Saudi women would gain the right to vote or run for local
offices. Governments that resist face internal revolt, and in
the age of Twitter and instant communications, rudely discover
their actions are no longer internal matters. The whole world
are still problems as the youth start moving into the job market
and the countries are not set up for growth or have the industry
that allows growth. To complicate matters, corruption and the
‘good old boy’ network prevent many from finding
gainful employment. Governments entry into world markets has
slowed the previous price controlled and subsidized economies.
Prices in urban centers have risen and local vendors now must
compete with imports. The people, in general, would rather visit
malls and shopping centers than the old shops. Urbanization
has brought its share of new problems.
Arab Dawn sheds some needed light on the positive changes
that are happening throughout the Middle East. The vast majority
of the population wants basically the same thing as the Western
world, although with an Arab cultural tint to it. Fast cars,
McDonalds, and MTV are as much a part of Arab life as it is
American life. Islam does not mean ISIS or terrorism, but the
West will have to see what is happening beyond the sensationalism.
An Arab Dawn is a great place to start in understanding the
Middle East and the Arab world.