From my most–humbled, point of view..
The Middle Eastern young, mainly the middle class ones are born with modest options for their governments ignore them when they need it the most and their society adopts them for a price of a life served within complex traditions. Sadly enough, some of which –lucky enough to make a life out of the box, would curry on their traditions deep inside and one day; would come to surface –out of regret, demoralizing event, financial benefit, etc. and it will turn that person into a religious freak! I have seen many of my own good friends whom went to the Gulf region (Dubai, Kuwait, etc.) and came back with ideas, some would consider a bit extreme!!
Several phases a Middle Eastern must pass from youth in order to fully graduate into his/her society; first, when being categorized as a teenager, an already accused of all bad doings until proven otherwise, most parental focus falls on girls at this age, mainly from male relatives (brothers), then mother and father; second phase, you graduate and start to work while barely making enough money for a new dress, cigarettes, transport yet, viewed by the family as a parasite still draining the family resource while –theoretically, generating own income… at this phase (age), girls start to focus on their looks and approaching potential husbands with different techniques, unphysical –unless really needed, all under the table of course; if we’re lucky to leave home for a job in the Gulf, away from the parents and provided no direct relatives whom might report back home live over there, one might actually get a chance to experience some freedom; starting to make some money and build up savings automatically upgrades a person to the final phase, which is, basically for a guy, having a job and enough cash to: 1) rent/buy a house, 2) buy furniture, 3) own a car, better two, 4) enough disposable cash to spend ridiculously just to impress the girl’s parents’ during the engagement phase , concluded by a fancy wedding party. Afterwards, the guy goes back to his job in Dubai/or some other Gulf state to sustain his living standard, along with/or without the new wife and society will welcome the new family –not as an irresponsible bachelors, but rather, a respectable, tradition abiding couple, expected to make a lot of kids so they would be judged by them; observed and judged by the surrounding society, all over again!
A we will see later, the real and only difference between Middle Eastern and Western young’s is that, the latter enjoys more options!! Simply stated; yet, a lot in between to consider..
Financially: When, at a young age, deprived from the right to Financial Security, we create a young society controlled by inherited traditions and mislead religious believers, especially when governments ignore their role presented by all sorts of governmental and nongovernmental organizations focused on helping the young to stand on their feet without going back to their families for financial support; we tell those folks that they have nothing but their family contacts/ties, family resources and absolute surrender to their cultural boundaries regardless of how bad they resist it!
- For a ME, middle class boy, turning 18 clearly means that he will feel no freedom whatsoever for another 4- 6 years –since no student/part-time job could help a guy back-home pay for his gas, meaning: you’d still be getting your monthly/weekly allowance from your parents hence, you’re their b*^~h. Oh boy :-) Now, some might think that I am exaggerating, trust me, I am not. The real independence comes from financial independence and how to achieve that level of independence while your ultimate goal is to get it over with and graduate so you would be employed by a big company/name –something to put on your empty CV, and work your butt off for free/or close to nothing until you’re 22- 24 years of age? That if you’re lucky to be making any money at that age anyway!!
- As a girl; well, it’s even harder. Our society most always has a certain image when it comes to a female figure; a mother, a housewife/or half of each but nothing like career oriented, goal driven, achiever, CEO, a president, etc. So, for a woman to achieve anything she has to always work harder, be sexier, very organized, tolerant, etc. and you know what? The return might not even cover all the hours, makeup, accessories and new dresses invested into it, at least, not after a very long time!
- Some might get lucky though, leaving home during your university years to study somewhere far but you will be back, and even after 2 or 6 years; the minute you step back home, all that is gone and your back to that same level of control –with less tolerance from your side this time after you have tasted freedom!! Basically, as long as you live under their roof, there is nothing much you can do about it other than buying some image by participating in paying the bills or buying something for the house/your parents and such gestures made solely from your own pocket –if there is anything left in it!
Socially: Young usually pushed into role-playing i.e., they will go to prayers for the sake of showing off, they will attend family events in order to be well spoken of, they will approve and insist on applying all sorts of tradition-religion activities in order to show how ‘authentic’ they are and while religion is employed by tradition, tradition becomes religion and no one can tell the difference anymore with everyone’s focused towards belonging and achieving the ultimate approval. I remember when we were kids, all loving, innocent and playing together and after a dose of tradition-religion, we come to believe that this nice person is actually going to hell and that one is going to heaven based on their religion; that this good person cannot marry my sister/or daughter because his believes are different than ours.
- Your elder brother(s), neighbors, the guy who work at the shop next-door, a jealous friend; they will inform on you to your parents, whom will have to overreact so that everyone is satisfied! A girl would be having a coffee with a male friend and someone tells the family; that girl will be –at minimum, blamed for inappropriately exposing herself in a way that brought shame upon the family. Boys, mostly get away with this one but as a twisted reaction on behalf of the society they very much dislike, they start talking about that girl, making up sexual fantasies that might get to her family and sometimes, gets the girl killed by her family. As a result, females –mostly, feel unease where’s a male presence, expecting nothing but the worse; making up lies and deception becomes a lifestyle within the young’s from both genders and no one can blame them.
- Why is it not acceptable for a single adult to live alone? Sex, that’s why. A single person is a tempted-to-do-wrong person by default, a good example would be of a single guy walking toward a shopping mall in Saudi Arabia during weekend, the security would not allow him to enter the mall as it is a family-only day; as in, by default, this guy is going into the mall with the soul idea of rapping someone! Consequently, the socially accepted way of moving from your parent’s home is if you have gotten married /or, as previously stated, were presented with an irresistible job offer in the Gulf region such as Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc. taking into consideration that for a female, convincing the family (parents, uncles, male cousins) of moving off to another country –let alone living alone as a single woman, is as difficult as reaching to an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis’! Although; sometimes the family may see it as an opportunity for their daughter to find a rich catch hence, marriage for the girl is the first priority.
- Which brings us to the marriage issue; Now, when it comes to you announcing a partner; everyone is perfect and everyone is a judge, and you play along in order to be ‘socially accepted’; this is when the pretending and ass covering starts until the whole thing is a big play intended for everyone’s amusement/approval, excluding yours. Women tolerate the most, that until they discover the secret ultimate weapon against their male oriented society known as Religion, lots of kids too! This is when they trade what they really are for a boost of authority with the price of taking the whole family into a religious crusade that would definitely drive their kids i.e., the new generation, into further extremism while losing the spiritual fundamentals of one’s own religion!
Most of the Western world might not know that the restrictions applied nowadays –on us, Middle Easterners, in forms of tradition and associated religious behaviors did not exist/or at least, had minimum effect on people’s lives 60 years ago! not that long Ha… Broken from within into many religions and different believes, for each has its own rules, driving our thinking to the point of entering the new century with a computer, wrapped in a tribal flag!
I, honestly have no idea why no one bothered telling the confused, so called Middle East Experts that in order to give people democracy, you provide them with a job, a decent minimum-wage/income, a flexible financial system to support the young bundled and supported by governmental institutes, allow the educational syllabus to self-upgrade by not limiting research to the university level only, allowing religion to be taught from a historical point of view and through neutral authors and researches while focusing on the spiritual messages instead of outlining who is wrong and who is right!! This is how it was in the Middle East back in the 40s and up until the end of the 60s; a period when cities from Tehran to Cairo had a life standards we tend to see nowadays in cities such as London or Paris.. Monarchies started falling and gotten replaced with the ‘one and only’, followed by another ‘one and only’, and another until we lost the last bit of our freedom to the ‘one and only’ concentration camps managed by his loyal buddies and engineered by the masters of Cold War and justified/or covered up by their media machines –depending on the chess board.
Over 50 years of walking backwards, 50 years of continuous withdrawal, a century of being sold and bought by different players, wars we didn’t want, boundaries we never had, an economy with no bases and a future with no foreseen future, nationalities we were given then encouraged to seek another, lust for the West, proud of a history we once had and unless somehow tied to the ‘one and only’ and/or his buddies in any way, foreigners we live in our own land! When the youth are left with no options, they are most likely to listen to this guy whom would make up stories of heaven and what awaits there if you do this/that; then it’s a matter of time before someone goes Kaboom?
Provide means and they shall have opportunities; Opportunities will bring up energy; Energy will ignite change; Change will teach freedom; Freedom will bring democracy; Democracy is about having options and Options will bring those continents closer.
Stated in my humble opinion :-)
Comment: it is of utmost importance to note that the Middle Class and no other, has been always the soul element moving and changing societies across the globe. Having that said; the MC has been shrinking in our region with, 1- 5% of it moving up the ladder to join the rich, while the rest is dropping so fast to the bottom i.e., trading the lifestyle they once afforded with a better awaits in heaven –if been religious enough. Hence, expanding extremism by expanding the audience base!
Note: Arabs are not terrorists’, Muslims are not LALALAla Crazy; they are people whom their parents, even grandparents attended the best schools and universities (females too), Cairo was a place for Greeks and Italians to immigrate and make a living; Syria’s economy was the third most developed in whole Asia back the 50s; Beirut was better than Paris and so was Tehran; Baghdad’s universities were among the best recognized worldwide; people were free to practice whatsoever religion they follow, including Jews of course (the first Minister of Finance in modern Iraqi was an IRAQI who happens to be a Jew; get it?); they lived among each other’s and they were respectful and over 40% of the society was Middle Class, concentrated in those cities until the ‘one and only’ came along and brought his loyal monkeys to rule over our heads.. the rest, ongoing history.