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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.
Arabian Business looks at 10 key findings from the report.
\n1. Best days ahead
\n\n74% 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. \nOptimism 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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2. Arab identity
\n\nThe overwhelming majority of Arab youth expressed a greater sense of national pride and Arab identity following the protests that swept across the region in the past two years and led to the toppling of leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the change of leadership in Yemen. \n87% of those polled said they were “more proud to be an Arab,” after the so-called Arab Spring.
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\n\nGetting paid a “fair wage” is a top priority for 82 percent of those polled similar to results a year earlier.\nIn Jordan, 87 percent of respondents said the importance of fair pay was a priority. Lebanon follows Jordan with 86 percent of those polled prioritising wages. The rate is marginally less at 84 percent in Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. However, unemployment was a concern for 41 percent of those polled in the Gulf and for 46 percent of those outside the region.
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4. Home ownership
\n\nOwning one’s home is the second most important concern among the youth of the Arab world, preceding the desire to “live in a democracy” or living without a fear of terrorism, according to the survey. Of those surveyed across the MENA region 66 percent said home ownership was of paramount concern. \n25% of Arab youth expect to purchase homes in their 30s and 40s in line with purchasing trends globally, according to the survey. \nAbout 21 percent of Egyptians and 26 percent of Iraqis believe they will be unable to buy a home until they are well into their 40s while about fifteen percent have concerns about being unable to purchase a home at all.
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5. Rising cost of living
\n\nInflation is the greatest concern for the overwhelming majority of Arab youth with \n62% of those polled saying they were “very concerned” about the rising cost of living. That was in line with last year’s findings where 63 percent of respondents in twelve countries said they were very concerned about living costs, up from 57 percent in ten Arab nations in 2011.\n70% of youth in Lebanon are concerned about the rise of living costs — the highest in any country. This is followed by Iraq with 68 percent and surprisingly, the UAE with 66 percent.
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6. Unrest and lack of democracy
\n\nThe future of the Arab world is tied to civil unrest and lack of democracy, according to nearly half of those surveyed. 44% believed civil unrest has an impact on the future of the region while 43 percent saw the lack of democracy as a defining element to progressing.
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7. UAE most appealing
\n\nThe UAE is the number one choice of about 31 percent of the Arab youth surveyed, followed by 18 percent who find France appealing. The US and Turkey had 16 percent and Saudi Arabia had 14 percent. \n31% of all those surveyed said they would like their country to be like the UAE, while 17 percent picked France and 16 percent opted for the US and Turkey.
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8. First choice
\n\nFor the second year in a row, around 44 percent of the Arab youth view France as the most favourable country outside the MENA region. About 49 percent of Saudis have positive views regarding the European country, followed by 38 percent of Emirati youth. The number of Libyans who look favourably on the country has declined to 40 percent from 63 percent while 55 percent of Egyptians and 49 percent of Qataris have positive views of the country.
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9. News consumption
\n\nNews consumption, which peaked with the protests that swept the Arab world, is on the decline, according to the survey. Compared with 52 percent of Arab youth who followed the news in 2012 and eighteen percent in 2011, the number of those surveyed who continue to do so has dropped to 46 percent in early 2013. Television continues to be the dominant medium through which news followers get their information, increasing to 72 percent from 62 percent in 2012.
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10. Social media
\n\nThe popularity of social media, which was instrumental in galvanising protests and dissent across the Arab world during the last two years of unrest, continues its uptake with the number of Arab youth who use it exceeding those who turn to newspapers. \nWith an increased interest in current affairs, the internet and the sense of empowerment that social media provides Arab youth, about 28 percent of all those polled say they turn to social media outlets for their news, up from 20 percent in 2012. Some 64 percent of those polled say they have a Facebook account and 40 percent maintain they are active on the world’s largest blogging site Twitter.