CSIS released the study, Ties That Bind, that
looks at the rising sense of individualism in the Arab world, the changing ways Arabs
relate to their families and to their tribes and the changing way states are trying to
adapt to what’s going on. We did more than a hundred interviews in four
different countries in Arabic, in English, in French.
We traveled to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Tunisia. Wealthier countries,
poor countries, monarchies, republics. It was surprising to us actually how much
uniformity there was across the region, that younger people are feeling like they have
to rely on themselves more. people in many ways feel that the sort of
tribal and family alliances are a luxury that they can no longer afford.
We’ve seen young people in Lebanon and Iraq in recent weeks rising up and saying, the
group identities don’t work for us. You have to deal with us as individuals, as citizens.
That’s totally consistent with the kinds of things young people were telling us.
People told us that the old kind of characteristics of what tribe you’re in, what family you’re
in matter less than: What do you believe? Who are your friends? What do you like to
do? That’s not the way the Middle East has been
working. It seems likely that’s the way the Middle East will be working more and more
in the future. To read the whole study, go to CSIS.org/mideast.