In the wake of the Arab Spring, Arab youth are prouder than ever of their national identity with nearly 9 out of 10 feeling “more proud to be an Arab” while the majority believe that their future looks bright, according to the fifth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, released today.
A ground-breaking initiative of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, the leading public relations consultancy in MENA, the Arab Youth Survey is aimed at providing reliable data and insights into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s 200 million-strong youth population, informing policy- and decision-making of both government and the private sector.
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller selected international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) to complete 3,000 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain), Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and in three new countries added this year: Morocco, Algeria and Yemen. The survey was conducted between December 2012 and January 2013.
The survey finds that in the wake of the Arab Spring, regional youth are prouder than ever of their national identity – and they increasingly embrace modern values and beliefs. Nearly nine out of 10 young Arabs (87%) feel “more proud to be an Arab” following the uprisings, and 59% believe recent changes in their country will have a positive impact on them and their family. Two-thirds (67%) feel “better off” following the events of the Arab Spring and 45% believe their national government has become more transparent.
Also, in each of the 15 countries surveyed, a clear majority are optimistic about the future, with a nearly equal percentage of youth in the Gulf and non-Gulf states (76% and 72%, respectively) saying “our best days are ahead of us”. Likewise, more than half (58%) believe their country is “heading in the right direction” considering the last 12 months, while 55% say their national economy is also heading in the right direction.
For the second consecutive year, “being paid a fair wage” is the highest priority of Middle East youth, cited by 82% of all those surveyed. The importance of fair pay is followed by home ownership, with 66% of Arab youth describing “owning their own home” as “very important”. Tellingly, nearly a fifth (15%) of young Arabs believe they will never be able to afford their own home.
Rising living costs remain the number one concern of Arab youth, also for the second straight year in the annual study, with 62% saying they are “very concerned” about the issue. According to the latest findings, the rising cost of living is a bigger worry than “the economy”, “the threat of terrorism”, “events of the Arab Spring” and “unemployment”.
“Civil unrest” and “lack of democracy” are identified as the main obstacles in the way of the MENA region’s development, while “lack of Arab unity”, the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” and “lack of political direction” are other barriers. GCC and non-GCC youth are equally concerned about civil unrest, with 44% in both sets of countries highlighting the issue as the Arab World’s biggest obstacle.
Meanwhile, the UAE continues to be regarded as a model nation. Asked to name the country, anywhere in the world, where they would most like to live, Arab youth, as they did in 2012, cite the UAE as their preference. The UAE is the top choice of 31% of Arab youth across the 15 countries surveyed, followed by France (18%), the United States and Turkey (16%).
Sunil John, Chief Executive Officer of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “Every year ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller conducts the Arab Youth Survey because we understand the importance of providing reliable data here in the Middle East, where research into public opinion is often limited. This substantial investment in thought leadership demonstrates our firm belief in the principle of evidence-based communications.