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2014: the year ahead

At the end of each year the Economist publishes its views on what will be the major stories in the year ahead. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014’ ranks its top ten forthcoming trends thus:

1.Rising societal tensions in the Middle East and North Africa

2. Widening income disparities

3. Persistent structural unemployment

4. Intensifying cyber threats

5. Inaction on climate change

6. The diminishing confidence in economic policies

7. A lack of values in leadership

8. The expanding middle class in Asia

9. The growing importance of megacities

10. The rapid spread of misinformation online

The Economist found the WEF’s first trend particularly interesting in relation to the article by Xan Smiley, The Economist’s Middle East and Africa editor, in The World in 2014. Mr Smiley also expects more unrest in the region:

“Many will say that the Arab spring is well and truly over. They are wrong. The Arab awakening, always a better description, has forced the Arab world to change, mainly for the better, despite the massive recent disappointments of Syria and Egypt, uncertainties elsewhere and continuing autocracy in the Gulf. Social media and the internet have revolutionised Arab minds. The ability of the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to bring down both a military government and-with help from the generals-an Islamist one has given people a new thirst for having a say in who rules them. There will be plenty of evidence, in 2014, that this has yet to be slaked.”

Park Guen-hye, South Korea’s president, also worries about unemployment, particularly among the young. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as of 2012 almost 200m people out of the global working-age population of 5.3 billion are jobless.


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