Arab Youth Survey 2018

Saudi Crown Prince wildly popular among Arab youth, survey shows

Arab Youth Survey data shows that a vast majority of young people in the region support Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's anti-corruption drive
Saudis chat and check their phones in front of a poster of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the 'MiSK Global Forum' held under the slogan 'Meeting the Challenge of Change' in Riyadh. (Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Tue 08 May 2018 11:00 AM

A vast majority of young Saudis – and a significant number of young Arabs from across the region – are supportive of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his policies, particularly his far-reaching anti-corruption drive, according to statistics from the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2018.

According to the survey, 91 percent of surveys between the ages of 18 and 24 approve of Prince Mohammed’s appointment as the kingdom’s crown prince, with 90 percent of Saudi respondents in that age group saying they believe he is taking Saudi Arabia in the right direction.

An even large proportion of young Saudis – 97 percent – said they believe the Crown Prince to be a strong leader, a sentiment shared by 64 percent of respondents across the MENA region surveyed.

Arab youth – both in Saudi Arabia and abroad – were found to be overwhelmingly in favour of Mohammed bin Salman’s anti-corruption drive, with 94 percent of Saudi youth saying they support the campaign, compared to 89 percent elsewhere in the GCC, 85 percent in North Africa, and 83 percent in the Levant.

Young Saudis were also found to extremely positive about the outcome of Crown Prince’s Saudi Vision 2030, with 92 percent saying it would be a success. The figure rises to 94 percent among young women, compared to 91 percent of men.

Lastly, 15 percent of Arab Youth – and 25 percent in the GCC – said they believe Mohammed bin Salman will have a bigger impact on the region than any other Arab leader over the course of the next 10 years.

“This data must come as very good news to MBS and the policy team around him, and he must certainly seek to capitalise on the goodwill and favour he enjoys,” said Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University.


Saudi women take selfies as they attend a concert by Egyptian pop sensation Tamer Hosny in the western city of Jeddah on March 30, 2018.  (Photo: AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images)

“To make sense of the numbers, once has to appreciate the context today of the Arab world and of the kingdom in particular,” he added. “There is a deep and broad desire across these societies for reform, and the youth see MBS as the most engaged agent in its transformation.”

However, Haykel noted that he believes that the high numbers in Mohammed bin Salman’s favour also are “fraught with danger”.

“They signal very high expectations among the youth about the change MBS can generate and the results he must deliver,” he said. “Their expectations have to be managed carefully, because reform and job creation will take time.”


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