October 30, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7737

Egyptian Writer: Cronyism, Toadyism And Hypocrisy Cause Brain Drain In The Arab World

October 30, 2018
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 7737

In a June 21, 2018 article, Mursi 'Atallah, the former board chairman of the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, discussed the problem of brain drain in the Arab world. The Arab countries' main asset, he wrote, is not their natural resources but their human capital. However, their failure to cultivate excellence drives talented people to emigrate to other places where they can realize their potential. He called on these countries to build an academic and research infrastructure to keep native talent from emigrating, and also to maintain contacts with individuals who have already left by means of joint enterprises, for these brains constitute the true "soft power" of the Arabs.

Mursi 'Atallah (Image: Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, April 10, 2009)

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]

"We are very wrong to think that the power of the Arab nation lies only in its large oil and gas reserves or in the unique geographic location [of the Arab countries] at the nexus between the world's continents. According to recent U.N. reports, the Arab nation has a huge number of talents in all fields – science, technology, economy, philosophy and sports – [living] in various countries around the world. Each one of these outliers constitutes a one-man 'lobby' in the fight against the forces hostile to the Arabs.

"The truth is that the achievements of Arabs abroad is an indictment of most Arab countries, [exposing] the shameful inadequacy of their systems, which drives these talented people to emigrate in search of a suitable opportunity to prove their ability to serve humanity at large and the Arab states in particular. The departure of these creative minds proves that the backwardness of most Arab countries stems primarily from the inadequacy of their administrative systems, which often allow small talents to lead in the public sphere, at the expense of the great talents. This is because cronyism, toadyism, obsequiousness and hypocrisy are deadly weapons that can kill talents and keep them from being discovered.

"The talents who emigrate are victims of society's ignorance regarding the importance and the mission of scientific research. Evidence of this is the fact that the sum invested by all the Arab countries together in building modern factories and supplying them with the equipment and brains needed for scientific research is smaller than the sum invested [separately] by Israel, Korea or Japan. If we have been unable to achieve political unity or economic integration, or even open our borders to free trade and passage, so as to realize the vision of a unified Arab identity, then [perhaps] we should pursue the hoped-for unity through the avenue of our talented people abroad – either by supporting them there, or by working to bring them back by means of joint [Arab] research initiatives that may restore some of this nation's lost honor. This, so we do not miss the golden opportunity to invest in our soft power that is deployed around the world!..."  


[1] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 21, 2018.

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