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The Phoenix will be busy

K Dimachkie Picture Dec 17

I eagerly await the fulfilment of the next prediction, writes Kamal Dimachkie.

December 20, 2012 3:56 by

By Kamal Dimachkie

Another year is drawing to a close and a new one is looming on the fast approaching horizon. Such milestones tend to make people take stock more than on any ordinary day, and perhaps at this particular junction it is not without merit. It is also a time that arouses curiosity, especially concerning the New Year and what it will bring.

The Futurist Magazine has already released its ten forecasts for 2013 and beyond. The magazine’s predictions are fascinating, but there were a few that are of particular interest. My favourite is how “Neuroscientists may soon be able to predict what you will do before you do it.” I wonder if this is a precursor to the events dramatised in Minority Report and whether it will lead to the incarceration of people for crimes they have yet to commit.

I eagerly await the fulfilment of the next prediction. Apparently “the ‘cloud’ will become more intelligent, not only a place where you store data.” I can’t wait to experience all that such a development will enable us to do, and how much more it will allow us, I hope, to accomplish. There will certainly be many applications for this, and perhaps the field of medicine stands to gain the most and make the biggest human impact once the field of computing delivers this innovation. I suppose the flip side is that we need to worry more about programming and IT, but I am optimistic we will be the better for it.

On its surface, the next forecast is a bit of a paradox. It seems that “The economy may become increasingly jobless, but there will be more work.” On the one hand it is expected that many recently lost jobs may not come back; on the other, and thankfully, many of those who have lost their jobs will be focusing on developing new skills, skills that will keep them busy and, hopefully, help them continue their economic upward mobility. What a relief.

Talk of the economy brings this conversation home to the Middle East North Africa region. It raises a myriad of topics, each of which rightly poses questions that beg to be answered. If you are curious, this area will keep you very busy. How will oil fare in 2013? What does the year have in store for the GCC and the individual countries? Which way will Syria turn out in the coming 12 months? How will Lebanon be affected? What is next for Palestine and the Palestinians? What will Egypt’s cliff-hanger produce? Will the hard-earned democracy and the country’s first ever vote confirm its commitment to progress, social development and economic prosperity?

Clearly, the above is just a sample, because there is quite a lot that is going on in the region. While the future concerns everyone, let’s say that in our region we have more than our fair share to ponder. From the Gulf to the Atlantic, people in this part of the world have been on a rollercoaster ride, lurching from one issue to another, barely escaping one catastrophe only to discover that they have to deal with the next threat. A cursory look at any day’s paper shows the spectrum of challenges that the people of this region deal with. In some countries the struggle is about staying alive. In others it’s about earning daily subsistence. Another group struggles to obtain a modicum of human rights, equality and education, while yet another wants its voice to be heard over the thick cover of cultural norms.

And yet it is this very picture that inspires optimism and a ray of hope. Looking around the world, we see many examples of people dealing with adversity, overcoming it and moving on to build a future. Japan provides an inspiring example, its people having dealt with the double impact of tsunami and nuclear meltdown. That experience was obviously devastating, but the Japanese showed fortitude and put it behind them. In contrast, in our region, people must deal with a recurring daily cycle of challenges. The people of the Middle East often wake up to discover the previous day’s work in ruins, and must pick up the pieces and build again. So the cycle continues.

In this region, each person who goes through such a life cycle must be like the Phoenix, ready to rise from yesterday’s ashes with each new dawn. In the Middle East, the Phoenix is fit, experienced and tenacious, for nowhere else do people pick themselves up with the frequency that this region demands.

So, in the true spirit of a year winding down, and a new one approaching, I wish to make one prediction. I make it with the enthusiasm of a child about to open a present, I make it with faith in the indefatigable human spirit, and I make it with an optimistic eye on the future. The Middle Eastern Phoenix will indeed be busy, very busy, in 2013.

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