Unemployment Paradox in the MENA Region

Unemployment Paradox in the MENA Region

  • High and increasing unemployment rates in the MENA region are a concern for governments and economy.
  • We have at our hands a peculiar situation where we lack employment opportunities, as well as a lack of qualified candidates who can meet specific job requirements
  • This article deals with the common employment paradoxes faced by employers in the region.

One of the challenges that face any economy is its unemployment percentage and the MENA region is not an exception; where these rates are not only high…But unfortunately increasing!

Unlike most people claims; unemployment is not mainly attributed to unavailability of employment opportunities, but surprisingly enough, employers are also facing the challenge of scarce caliber resources who can meet minimum requirements of a specific job. Companies need workers who can do their jobs perfectly or at least do the minimum requirements needed for the job to be productive; while employees are mainly focusing on job rewards.

Therefore there is a paradox between the 2 claims, one which states that the market does not have enough jobs and the other that claims that many jobs can’t find candidates to fill! Well actually both are true!

While investors are not investing enough (Development and Money), also workers are not working hard enough!

The following chart shows different unemployment rates across the global regions (2014-Q2):

Unemployment Paradox in the MENA Region1

Common Unemployment Paradoxes

A) Attitude vs. Skills:

  • Most employers are eager to realize positive performance results and therefore seek in their interviews to hire employees with “technical” experience with low focus on attitude and behavior; thus leaving a lot of “Inexperienced” or “fresh graduate” candidates unemployed. The more we have employers like these, the higher will be the salaries of experienced workers and the lower will be the chance for potential good calibers.
  • ​MNC expansions through the past 2 decades has dramatically influenced the general market trend for people development in 2 ways:
  • Exported good candidates who are seeking better packages (Especially Managers) to local companies.
  • They directly forced their competitors to provide people with better development path and financial packages to avoid high employee turn-over.
  • MNC invasion was not all so good also; some employees would just leave because they are perceived below expectations at their former companies where the performance bar is really high, while they know they can get a better salary and job title at another organization that is not so very much sophisticated! This was one of the reasons for salary bubbles raising the gap between different company ranks.

B) Able to Work vs. Willing to Work:

  • While some people can’t find a job, some others are not willing to work unless in very specific jobs or even unwilling to work at all!
  • Some insist on finding jobs in their specific education field, while others are not willing to work unless with a specific salary or a specific position.
  • The main issue is not the perception itself, but rather their willingness to improve their knowledge, skills and attitude… Some workers just don’t and won’t upgrade any of those three, but still are demanding specific jobs that can’t be matched by their current set of skills and will (Most probably) stay unemployed!

C) Gap between Education and Actual Required Market Experience

  • While employers are still valuing technical and functional skills, millions of fresh graduates are out in the market getting frustrated from the amount of job applications and interviews replied to negatively or even none replied to at all! I always face this question from frustrated young people “How can I have experience if nobody is willing to provide me with this experience without having prior experience?!”

D) Perceived vs. Actual Skills:

  • Another paradox that invaded the job market is how a candidate perceives the skills required to perform adequately in a given job. If an employee is given a negative feedback from his / her direct boss, most commonly they will seek another job where they are perceived as better candidates to fill the required positions

E) Low Caliber

  • It is very common that company X is looking for a senior manager and 100 people apply for the job, then the number reaches 10 candidates after the initial screening and then 2 at the final interview them 0 accepted, then company X looks for a specific senior manager to hire later by direct head hunting.

What we are facing currently is a multifaceted “unordinary” issue; therefore the solution also should be “unordinary”

Real change of: Perception – Attitude – Creative Solutions.

The article is written by Sherif Taha for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review


Your ‘Right To Be Forgotten’

Your Right To Be Forgotten


  • Some recent lawsuit rulings support the argument that individuals have the right to ‘redact results’ on searches of their names if the info is inadequate, irrelevant or out of date.
  • The right to   be forgotten is difficult to implement because the Internet is too open and the information is too fluid.
  • This whole issue of a user’s rights to controlling information about himself or herself will create all sorts of legal, technological and moral discussions for years to come.
  • Our existence in the digital world requires more protection but in a way that makes sense and which is based on a logic of what should and what should not be censored.

Five years ago, a Spanish lawyer took Google to court because he wanted to ‘suppress’ an old legal notice against him which kept appearing every time that anyone searched his name. It was information concerning foreclosure of his home in 1998- the same year that Google was launched- which he claimed was ‘no longer relevant’, and was an ‘unfavorable link’ that affected his reputation to this day. Mario Costeja González was seeking to assert the so-called “right to be forgotten“.

In May this year, a European court issued a ruling that supports his right and it has started a chain reaction that will affect everyone and everything on the Internet.

It means that individuals have the right to ‘redact results’ on searches of their names if the info is inadequate, irrelevant or out of date.

Since the beginning of June, Google has been drowning under requests from Europeans who wish to exercise their newly-won “right to be forgotten.” In fact, Google said it received 41,000 requests from people in the first four days, amounting to more than 10,000 requests per day. That’s 7 requests per minute and the numbers are expected to increase! Google are planning to hire new staff just to handle them.

Why did the European court rule against Google? Because it defined Google as a  “data controller” under a European law on data protection, which gives individuals strong rights over data that others hold on them.

However, there are many critics of this ruling and various experts who believe it’s just not applicable.

To begin with, the ‘right to be forgotten’ is hard to implement, as Google could censor its search results in Europe, but users elsewhere in the world could see that information and just send it to anyone in Europe. Additionally, with basic technical know-how or by downloading an ‘unblock’ product, anyone can change his/her country IP address and browse the web without local limitations – just like users in Arabian Gulf countries do all the time to access blocked sites.

Every country, or region, will ask Google to censor different information and the result will be a mess of censored/uncensored information by country that will not provide global removal of information.

Some countries may even take an opposite stance, demanding that the right to public freedom of information prevents Google from removing any information from the public record. Simply, any person should be able to know anything about anybody if it’s a public record.

Even if it were possible to force search companies, or social networks, to erase the past, it could do more harm than good. It would prevent users from discovering the inconvenient truths about those who would like their past covered up.

The Internet is now the depository of human history, but it’s not just about celebrities and public figures. It takes data-basing to a whole other level of personalized data, covering every member of society, due to social networks and search engines making every person searchable and identifiable. That’s why the Internet has a long memory, but you’re actually creating it yourself through your real-life actions and your online activity!

Sooner or later, you will feel that some information about you on the Internet appears to be unfair, one-sided or just plain wrong. What will you do? Can you actually do anything after agreeing to ‘terms and conditions?’.

You should take personal responsibility for every service you subscribe to and every piece of information- text, photos, videos- that you post. The culture of just ticking ‘I Accept All Terms’ without reading these terms must change.

When you join a ‘free’ service, realize that nothing is actually free. The service is exchanging the right to use- and sometimes own- your information with your right to use and benefit from the service.

This whole issue of a user’s rights to controlling information about himself or herself will create all sorts of legal, technological and moral discussions for years to come. As people’s requests pour into Google, you can also expect some ridiculous demands to emerge like someone asking for all personal history to be erased from the Internet. The notion of deleting oneself from the web is now growing as a demand!

This is the 21st century. There are our ‘actual selves’ and our ‘digital selves’. Surely, our existence in the digital world requires more protection but in a way that makes sense and which is based on a logic of what should and what should not be censored. This is just the beginning of a very long debate that could shape the information age.

The article is written by Zeid Nasser for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review

Hashtag Abuse

Hashtag Abuse

  • Hashtags are supposed to be helpful for topic search and are generally used for branding.
  • It remains a challenging task to make people abide by the rules of ‘hashtags’.
  • If hashtags were used properly, it would save considerable time when searching for specific things. 

What are hashtags? What are they used for? How useful are they really? Why are they being abused? Like me, these questions may have crossed your mind many, many times, so let’s first describe what hashtags are.

Hashtags are the words, pictures, or phrases found on social networks that are prefixed with the symbol #. Adding a hashtag helps to group those words, pictures, or phrases together so those interested in a particular topic or discussion can easily search them later. Another way to look at it is that you are “branding” or “tagging” certain words, phrases, or pictures , which then allows others to quickly search for the hashtag and find the collection of messages that includes it. This can be helpful when you are searching online for a particular topic that is of interest to you or when you are looking for other people that share similar interests to you. Many social networking services like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr, and Instagram—just to name a few—use this form of tagging.

Sounds simple and useful, right? Well, it can be a double-edged sword. Giving those pictures and words a hashtag is supposed to group those pictures and words, giving them a “label” that is searchable. Unfortunately, it is all unmoderated and uncontrolled. In so many cases, hashtags are used poorly to the point where they get lost and lose all the meaning with it. When, for example, social network users in Kuwait, and the surrounding region want to look for a specific event in Kuwait, they can simply search the words #KuwaitEvents on twitter and instagram. But you will be shocked to see the search results for this hashtag because you will be directed to numerous pictures of different food items in restaurants, cafes, shopping finds, quotes, business offers, and many other unrelated topics! Try #Kuwait on Instagram and you will be directed to millions of unrelated pictures! Someone who wants to check the hashtag #Kuwait probably wants to know more about the country and see pictures of Kuwait, Kuwaiti lifestyle, museums, monuments, people, or information about the country … not pictures of coffee cups, designer shoes, or unrelated love quotes, with loads of selfies (self-portraits taken with a camera phone and uploaded to social network sites). It is even worse when you try searching hashtags of big company names or specific CSR campaigns—so many unrelated search results, which defeats the whole purpose!

In short, before diving into the hashtag trend, we need to be sure we know the real purpose of—and how to use—hashtags. We need to know that tagging pictures and words is basically done to help classify and group topics of interest together so that others that share a similar interest or curiosity in those topics can easily find them later when searching a particular hashtag. If done properly, when you search for a specific topic or discussion you should be directed to relevant search results and not have to endure the misery of sifting through millions of pieces of unrelated information.

The article is written by Ansam I. AlRadwan for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review