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Tue 15 Mar 2011 01:13 PM

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Rising costs of living biggest challenge for Arab youth

Growing inflation seen as key trigger factor in Arab anti-government demonstrations

Rising costs of living biggest challenge for Arab youth
Emirati men walk by the Burj Khalifa, UAE nationals

Young Arabs have named the rising cost of living as
the single biggest challenge facing the Arab world today, according to a Middle
East-wide survey released Tuesday.

Nearly half – 48 percent – of respondents in the third annual
ASDA’A Burston-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey said rising rents and food prices
were a major concern.

Among
those in the Gulf, the figure rose to 54 percent.

Some
68 percent of respondents in protest-hit Bahrain, where demonstrations are
entering their sixth week, said rising prices were a primary worry.

In
Saudi Arabia, which suffers from a significant lack of affordable housing and
jobs for its 22 million population, the figure rose to 58 percent.

The survey of youngsters aged 18 to 24 in ten Middle Eastern
countries showed widespread support for the uprisings sweeping the region.

An initial 2,000 interviews were carried out between
December 2010 and January. A further 500 interviews were conducted in February
and March following the political unrest in the region, in

Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq.

Among those polled in the second round of interviews, 71
percent said rising living costs were a key catalyst for the uprisings seen in
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other Middle East states.

The ability to earn a fair wage also featured
strongly in the respondents lives. Some 72 percent of those polled said a good
salary was a key concern, up from 62 percent in 2010.

In
Kuwait, 80 percent of youths surveyed said a fair wage was very important.

Across
the region, 41 percent said they were worried about their standard of living,
and 43 percent were concerned about access to a reliable electricity supply.

A
lower number – 23 percent- were concerned about the quality of education and 33
percent cited concerns about the shortage of good quality healthcare.

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