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The Arab Spring was a hot topic for 70 000 youths

Fountain Park, together with the European People’s Party (EPP) and the think tank Centre for European Studies, carried out a unique and wide ranging study designed to map the possibilities for co-operation between the young generations in European and Arab countries. The study was unique in scope and in theme, and it was executed by utilizing Fountain Park’s Virtual Brainstorming service.

The goal was to search for collaboration possibilities directly between the citizens of Arab and European countries, bypassing the governing bureaucracies and corruption, as the co-operation between governments has not materialized to tangible results in peoples’ daily lives. The participants were able to describe how they saw their future, what is important to them and how the Europeans could demonstrate more tolerance and support for the Arab youth.

Six themes were identified: education, cultural exchange, momentum of the youth, economic co-operation, human rights and democratic development. The project exceeded all expectations. Concrete suggestions materialized, for example on how to direct emerging business ideas in Arab countries, or on how to market the know-how on renewable energy technologies. One of the wider themes to emerge was the education of the youth, and the importance and need for equality within the cultural exchange that is born as a result of education.

It is not easy for academic youth to find employment in the Arab world without being engaged in corruption. Therefore, it is important to organize equal opportunity student exchange between these two worlds, and to think about how to teach about the new technologies that help in this exchange, to the young people in Arab countries. The Finns are top performers in this exchange, thus it is essential that we embrace this opportunity.

The Spring Generation Virtual Brainstorm attracted 70 000 participants, 75% of which were under the age of 35. Over 25 000 ideas were generated, which were then further evaluated over 85 000 times. The invitations were sent out mainly on Facebook, Twitter and email. The brainstorming was done over the period ranging from December 2011 to June 2012. The majority of participants lived in Egypt, Libya and Algeria, with Egypt generating the most participants. The role of female participants was relatively low at 17%. The project was funded by the European Union.

Further Information: Tuomo Lähdeniemi

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