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Tue 20 Jan 2015 08:13 PM

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UAE tops global list for trust levels in gov't, business, media

Edelman Trust Barometer 2015 says 84% of citizens in UAE trust authorities compared to 55% globally

UAE tops global list for trust levels in gov't, business, media

Trust levels in government, business, media and NGOs in the UAE are the highest in the world, according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, which was published on Tuesday.

While this year's report revealed an alarming evaporation of trust across all institutions, reaching the lows of the Great Recession in 2009, trust in the UAE remained strong, with 84 percent of people described as "trusters" compared to the global average of 55 percent.

It showed that trust in government, business, media and NGOs in the general population is below 50 percent in two-thirds of countries, including the US, UK, Germany and Japan.

The barometer revealed a strong correlation between a country’s trust level and its willingness to accept innovation. The UAE, India and Indonesia, the top three countries on the trust index, are the most accepting of innovation.

Conversely, several European nations, including Germany, France and Spain, plus Japan and Korea, which are at the bottom of the trust index, are far less accepting of technological developments.

“There has been a startling decrease in trust across all institutions driven by the unpredictable and unimaginable events of 2014,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman.

“The spread of Ebola in West Africa; the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, plus two subsequent air disasters; the arrests of top Chinese Government officials; the foreign exchange rate rigging by six global banks; and numerous data breaches, most recently at Sony Pictures by a sovereign nation, have shaken confidence.”

For the first time, the Barometer looked at trust and its link to innovation and found that trust issues are hindering acceptance of technological advancements.

More than half (55 percent) feel business is not doing enough testing on new developments. Consumers also want stronger regulations of business (46 percent), yet across major industries surveyed, only half trust policy makers to develop and implement appropriate regulations, according to the report.

“The pace of change has never been faster and innovation has become an even greater imperative for business success,” said Edelman.

“Innovation should be a trust accelerator, but today it is not. To invent is no longer enough. There must be a new compact between company and individual, where companies demonstrate that innovations are safe based on independent research, provide both societal and personal benefit and are committed to the protection of customer data.”

This year signalled the end of an era of recovery of trust in business, as trust in that institution declined in two-thirds of the markets and is now below 50 percent in 14 countries, the worst showing since 2008.

The largest drops occurred in Canada (15 points to 47 percent), Germany (12 points to 45 percent), Australia (11 points to 48 percent) and Singapore (10 points to 61 percent).

The decline in trust in the CEO as a credible spokesperson continued for the third consecutive year, with trust levels now at 31 percent in developed markets.

Globally, CEOs (43 percent) and government officials (38 percent) continue to be the least credible sources, lagging far behind academic or industry experts (70 percent) and a person like yourself (63 percent). In the developing world, CEO credibility trends 30 points higher at 61 percent.

Other key findings from the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer include:

Government remains the least trusted institution for the fourth consecutive year, with trust levels below 50 percent in 19 of 27 countries.

Media as an institution is distrusted by 60 percent of countries and for the first time, online search engines are now a more trusted source for general news and information (64 percent) than traditional media (62 percent).

Trust in NGOs declined for only the second time but remained the most trusted institution. In 19 of 27 countries, trust in NGOs fell or remained at equal levels to the previous year and saw dramatic drops in the UK (16 points) and China (12 points).