It has been shown in a recent study that almost 95% of Arab students that graduate abroad do not choose to go back to their home countries. This was the main focus of a panel discussion at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

According to Mohammed Gawdat, Vice President of Business Innovation at Google(X), the Arab brain drain is the result of two major factors: lack of resources and instability in the region.

“It is not about money. It is about taking the right decisions to allow young people to succeed. Once the right decisions have been taken, we can provide the resources,” he said.

Participating in the ‘Brain Re-Gain’ panel discussion, Gawdat said that the brain drain could be positive, as those who emigrate from the Arab world gain skills and experience which could be useful in their home countries.

“Our problem is that we do not attract these people back to the Arab world,” said Gawdat, citing China’s experience in reversing its brain drain. “Those Chinese who emigrate return after gaining skills and experience overseas. This benefit China’s development. This is not happening in the Arab world. Arab governments need to create the right environment to attract people back.”



Gawdat was joined on the ‘Brain Re-Gain’ panel by Professor Hashim Sarkis, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, and Dr Fadlo Khuri, President of the American University, Beirut.

Dr Khuri said it was important for Arab governments to engage with young people in the development process. Highlighting the Marshall Plan, put in place by the United States at the end of World War II to rebuild Europe, Dr Khuri said Arab governments need a similar long term plan to involve young people in the development and reconstruction of the Arab world.

“In order to ensure development we need young people to be engaged with society. Unfortunately, Arab governments have not allowed young men and women to have a role in government and the development process,” Dr Khuri said.

The World Government Summit has convened over 3,000 personalities from 125 countries. The summit aims to explore more than 70 topics through keynote speakers and major interactive sessions, drawing the participation of world leaders, ministers, decision makers, CEOs, innovators, officials, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and university students.

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