With the recent election of President Morsi in Egypt, a civil war in Syria and constitutional elections last weekend in Libya, it seems as if events in the Arab world have taken over the evening news. Most people would say that this is because of the Arab Spring, and perhaps more distantly, the aftermath of September 11th.
But behind the deadlines, lies a more profound demographic trend. Population data (see below) show that for much of history until now, the Arab world did not ‘exist’ – at least, not in the same way as Europe or the West. In 1920, for every Arab in the world, there were 13 Europeans. The population of the Arab countries at that time was just 42 million, the same as France. Today the figure is 350 million, equivalent to the whole of western Europe. The Arab world will continue to be in the news.