Issue 6 – April 2022 – Editorial

A publication of the METO University Network

by Molly Pimm*

Welcome back to the sixth issue of The Bright Side, where we will be sharing positive news and developments that have recently emerged from the Middle East and North Africa region.

There is no doubt that education has the power to change lives, particularly in those regions where access to it is limited. Despite the fact that almost 100 million students in the MENA region were out-of-school due to school closures as a result of COVID-19, significant progress has been made in recent months, with more and more children being equipped with professional and technical skills every day.

For example, through cash-based transfers, the World Food Programme is helping Syrian students to stay in school and boosting the nutrition of their families. This assistance is doubly beneficial in that it both provides a safety net for families by lifting the financial pressure of sending their children to school and protects children from adopting negative mechanisms to cope with poverty, such as engaging in child labour. 

Ultimately, although conventional wisdom has it that deficits in educational attainment and enrolment are pervasive across the MENA region, the narrative is changing, as what was previously just rhetoric about ensuring that all children have equitable opportunities to quality and relevant education is being translated into tangible progress.

Beyond the realm of education, developments are also occurring in the field of energy. Just as we saw Saudi Arabia and Tunisia sign a deal to improve renewable energy in issue 3, Algeria and Turkey recently agreed to cooperate when it comes to trade and investment for both renewable and traditional energy sources – a move that will undoubtedly enhance the energy security of both countries by allowing them to maintain diverse energy supplies and resist the recent uncertainties over oil and gas supplies that have emerged as a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Not only this, but, with this sudden interest in renewables across the region, it is looking increasingly likely that we will see progress being made when it comes to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly goal 7, which seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Although the MENA region plays a central role in the global oil and natural gas markets, and is notably rich in fossil energy, the emerging collective acknowledgment that more sustainable forms of energy are needed is extremely promising, particularly for the fight against climate change.

Although that wraps up the major developments for this issue of The Bright Side, many other positive news stories from the MENA region exist. Whilst Western media outlets continue to paint a picture of unending conflict and inescapable poverty, positive news stories are right under our noses, although we might just have to look a little bit harder to find them. On that note, we look forward to sharing some more of these good news stories with you next month!

* Molly Pimm is a 2nd year student at St Andrews University in Scotland, working towards a degree in International Relations. Within METO, Molly focuses on education. Outside of METO, Molly is passionate about increasing women’s participation in politics, and also writes for the St Andrews Foreign Affairs Review.

Our Team

This bulletin is bought to you by the following members of the METO University Network:

Giada del Russo (Coordinator)
Soukaina El Anaoui (Women & Children)
Lara Rendl (Disarmament and Conflict Resolution)
Alexander Balke (Migrations)
Britt Gronemeyer (Healthcare)

Yutong Zhang (Environment)
Arwa Syed (Food & Water Security)
Tamyra Selvarajan (Energy)
Molly Pimm (Education)
Harshul Singh (Culture)
Hilda Ariastuti (Archaeology)

Get involved

If you are a student or recent graduate who is interested in supporting The Bright Side, or other METO projects, please consider volunteering with the METO University Network.

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The articles selected for publication in this bulletin have been specially chosen in order to highlight the good work done every day across the region in order to improve the quality of life for citizens. It also highlights the advances in culture and the new archaelogical discoveries in the region, underlining that this region really has been a cradle of civilization for millenia.

The views expressed in the linked articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the Middle East Treaty Organization and their inclusion in our bulletin should not be interpreted in any way other than we think they’re interesting stories that should be more widely known. We will never intentionally include articles that promote or condone violence and discrimination in any form.

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