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Tue 3 Dec 2019 02:54 PM

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How young Arabs view Saudi Arabia's role in the Middle East

Younger generation believes the kingdom to be the Arab state that has increased its influence the most in the Middle East in the past five years

How young Arabs view Saudi Arabia's role in the Middle East

The findings, including fresh insights about Saudi youth gleaned from the 2019 survey data, were presented by Sunil John, founder, ASDA’A BCW and president, Middle East BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) at the forum.

Young Arabs overwhelmingly view Saudi Arabia as a stronger ally than Iran and believe the kingdom to be the Arab state that has increased its influence the most in the Middle East in the past five years.

That's according to insights from the 11th annual ASDA'A BCW Arab Youth Survey 2019, presented to the first Saudi Media Forum on Tuesday in Riyadh.

The survey - based on 3,300 face-to-face interviews with young Arab nationals aged 18-24 in 15 states in the Middle East and North Africa - showed that 80 percent considered Saudi Arabia as an ally to their country while only 32 percent considered the same of Iran.

When asked which Arab state had increased its influence in the Middle East the most in the past five years, 37 percent Arab youth chose Saudi Arabia as their top choice.

The survey also revealed that almost half of young Saudis (45 percent) placed the rising influence of Iran among their top three concerns.

The findings, including fresh insights about Saudi youth gleaned from the 2019 survey data, were presented by Sunil John, founder, ASDA’A BCW and president, Middle East BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) at the forum.

The survey also revealed that young Saudis are concerned most about the rising cost of living, even as they place great faith in the Saudi government to steer the country and its economy in the right direction.

While 61 percent of Saudi youth said they believe the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East is the rising cost of living, 83 percent believe their government has the right policies to address the issues most important to young people.

Furthermore, 93 percent said they are content with the direction their country is headed and 83 percent think the Saudi Arabian economy is heading in the right direction.

Saudi youth are also more likely to turn to the internet for their news than their counterparts in other Arab states, with 93 percent choosing social media and 79 percent choosing online sources to receive news updates against 80 percent and 61 percent for young Arabs as a whole.

This is also in stark contrast to 2015, when only 18 percent Saudi youth chose social media, and 23 percent chose online sources for their news.

The Saudi Media Forum is an initiative launched by the Saudi Journalists Association, which aims to bring together leaders every year to address the challenges and constraints faced by the media industry.

The Arab Youth Survey was launched in 2008 to provide insights into the hopes and aspirations of the Arab world’s most important demographic – its youth.