Our best days are ahead - Special Report Arab Youth Survey 2013

The results of the latest Arab Youth Survey suggest that the region’s youth have an overwhelmingly positive outlook on the future

Optimism among Arab youth is highest in the UAE at 88 percent

Optimism among Arab youth is highest in the UAE at 88 percent

When the youth of the Arab world speak, it is time to listen. And so for the fifth year in succession, the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey is out, and once again it was worth reading closely.

So what are the youth saying this time? Three quarters of Arab youth have said their best days are ahead of them. In each of the fifteen 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 percent and 72 percent, respectively) saying “our best days are ahead of us”. Likewise, more than half (58 percent) believe their country is “heading in the right direction” considering the last twelve months, while 55 percent say their national economy is also heading in the right direction.

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 ten young Arabs (87 percent) feel “more proud to be an Arab” following the uprisings. For the second consecutive year, “being paid a fair wage” is the highest priority of Middle East youth, cited by 82 percent of all those surveyed. The importance of fair pay is followed by home ownership, with 66 percent of Arab youth describing “owning their own home” as “very important”.

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. France is the country outside MENA regarded most favourably by Arab youth, followed by Germany and China.  As the memory of the Arab Spring starts to fade, the overall percentage of young people updating themselves on news and current affairs daily appears to have fallen, from its 2012 peak of 52 percent to 46 percent this year. Representing a significant shift in media consumption patterns, television is now the primary source of news for 72 percent of regional youth (up from 62 percent in 2012), while 59 percent of all Arab youth rely on online news sources, an eight percent  increase from 2012. Newspaper readership among Arab youth continues to plummet, from 62 percent in 2011, to 32 percent in 2012 and 24 percent this year. Magazines have experienced a slight gain from last year, but only eight percent of Arab youth say they get their news from magazines. By comparison, social media is cited as the primary source of news of 28 percent of all Arab youth, up from 20 percent last year.

Television continues to be the most-trusted news source, cited by 40 percent of respondents, but trust in TV has dropped, from 49 percent in 2012 and 60 percent in 2011.

1. Best days ahead

of those surveyed across fifteen countries in the MENA region believe their best days are ahead of them, even though there are concerns regarding inflation, unemployment, unrest and a lack of democracy.

Young people in Kuwait were the most upbeat with 82 percent of them agreeing the best of their future was ahead of them followed by 78 percent in Morocco and 77 percent in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Ten years on after the US-led invasion of their country, about 71 percent of Iraqis said they're optimistic about the future.

Optimism is highest in the UAE at 88 percent, followed by Oman (80 percent) and Saudi Arabia (77 percent), while 49 percent of those surveyed in countries outside the Gulf also believe their country of residence is heading in the direction, a slight increase compared with the year before.

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