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Tue 15 Mar 2011 11:42 AM

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Vast majority of Arab youth want right to vote

Some 92 percent of youngsters say democracy is a key issue for them in regional survey

Vast majority of Arab youth want right to vote
Iranian protests demand the right to vote during a demonstration outside the Iranian consulate in Dubai on June 15, 2010

Arab youths want the right to vote, a poll conducted in key countries across the Middle East has found.

More than 90 percent of respondents in the third annual ASDA’A Burston-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey said democracy was very important to them.

In Iraq, 91 percent of respondents said the right to vote was a key concern, a figure that dropped to less than a third in the Gulf state of Qatar.

In the UAE – which last week saw 160 Emiratis petition the country’s ruler for free and democratic elections - 75 percent of those polled wanted the right to vote.

The poll surveyed Arab youngsters aged between 18-24 years, across 10 Middle East countries.

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.

In protest-hit states such as Lebanon and Jordan, the majority of respondents in the second round of interviews cited a lack of democracy as a key trigger factor in the uprisings.

In Jordan, 98 percent named democracy as a key issue, and 97 percent of those in Lebanon.

In Bahrain, which has seen nearly two months of street protests demanding political reform, just 56 percent of respondents saw democracy as a factor behind unrest.

Just over half of those polled in the Gulf kingdom – 54 percent – wanted the right to vote.

Rising demand for political change in the region may be partly attributed to the percentage of Arab youngsters concerned about social factors.

More than half of those polled – 52 percent – said crime was a worry, while nearly 60 percent cited fears about the quality of education in the Middle East.

Some 59 percent of respondents said the lack of affordable housing in the region was a concern, while 65 percent felt a shortage of quality healthcare would impact on the region.

Some 70 percent of youngsters said the uprisings sweeping the Arab world would have a positive outcome.

Ali Saleh 8 years ago

You don't need a Survey to tell you what the Arab youth want. Everybody wants his or her vote to be counted. This is the 21ST Century. It is not fair for a Family or a tribe to claim ownership or custody of a country and in the process abuse the wealth of the country. Look at what Ben Ali, Mubarak , Kathafi and Saleh have done. Either things change now in a peaceful fashion, the alternative is not good. Using the Clerics to justify to rule is part of the ruling menatlity of the 7th Century.

Azeem Naina 8 years ago

Democracy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!It's NOT a joke. People read some books and feel DEMOCRACY is everything..If we take UAE as an example, this country has one of the best rulers in the world.

If someone in UAE cries for DEMOCRACY , they have to think thousand times before they file their petitions. Because they have yet to do the self-examination. Whether the elder generation is guiding their children ? Do they monitor what the children are doing ?, are they studying ? do they know the value of money and work? do they know what the leaders of the country offering them and are they using these resources? Why don't and can't we compete with the foreign work force ?

Find these answers before any more petitions !!!!!

Business Man 8 years ago

Your comments are right on the nail Azeem. All motivating factors have been removed from the local population here. There is a whole generation of coffee shop Emiratis coming if the incentives continue to be poured on them. We have one of the Worlds greatest leaders with outstanding vision being let down by his spoilt population who then serve a petition!
All the opportunities are here and yet it is us foreigners who take advantage of them. Stop complaining and writing petitions, roll up your sleeves and go to work! Well said Azeem, it is refreshing to hear your point of view.