In 1996, millions of Arab speaking families around the world became fans of one of the most popular TV series based on a novel, by the great Egyptian author Ehsan Abdul Qudus.
You can tell from the interesting name of this novel “I will not live in my father’s coat/Lan Aish fi Jilbal Abi” that the theme is equally interesting.
This rags-to-riches story follows the life and love of a simple, hardworking recycling warehouse worker, named Abdul Ghafur, who struggled before establishing an entrepreneurial empire.
Perhaps, if we look more closely into the novel, we could see that the reason behind this story’s popularity that there is a little of Abdul Ghafur in each one of us who is struggling to find his or her own voice and independence, as opposed to living in the shadow of a guardian figure.
Just like Abdu Ghafur, fast forward to our present time, we are witnessing millions around the world sharing their thoughts about nations around the world who struggling, to find their voice and independence after centuries of living in the shadow of the British Empire.
As we live in this age of digital disruption that is allowing us to follow in real time and contemplate on the mourning of the late Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Realms, may her soul rest in peace, and the coronation of her son King Charles III, it is worth considering investing in three best practices for communities that wish to find their independence and voice: Investing in identity, investing in sharp power and investing in future markets.
Investing in identity
Why are millions around the world following the news of a monarchy that has seized to be relevant to them almost one century ago?
I would argue that the reason as the great sociology scholar Ibn Khaldun put it in his book the Introduction is “the defeated fond of imitating the victor”.
For a nation to adopt the winning mindset that makes great nations, it must shed the mindset developed in the age of imperial colonisation. One look and conversation with our young generations shows how interconnected our world has become and how their role models in life, arts, gaming, fashion, and design come almost from all over the world with very few local examples.
Modernising the local content of education can play a key role in helping us find our independent voice that respects all cultures and carries our culture into a peaceful and prosperous future.
Investing in sharp power
Defence and security today is more about sharp power than hard or soft power, based on the works of Joseph Nye. Cybersecurity and armed drones are today’s equivalent to the Gunboat and aircraft carrier diplomacy of colonial powers.
For example, conflicts in East and West are determined in war rooms thousands of miles away with screens that are similar PlayStation game rooms.
Any nation that is relying on other for its cybersecurity or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Technology- UAVs is at risk of being a target for nations that invested in this new sharp power strategy.
Investing in future markets
The world’s post-pandemic demography is changing, with millions of deaths and infections in addition to new priorities related to our health and lifestyle.
Based on these changes markets are changing the way they look at future demand for goods and services.
For example, there are questions raised given the global supply chain crisis: What are the alternatives to the West and China as the world’s factory? Who has more disposable income? Who is willing to pay fair and sustainable prices for our products, goods, and services?
For centuries, our region has been the source of cheap raw material which the fuelled the world’s wealth, and the world’s wealthy nations grew to be the guardians of the rest of the world.
We have a responsibility today to build a healthier, interdependent relationship where we all thrive, and does not entail living in the shadow of others.