David Hedengren
Last updated: 30 May, 2012

What young Arabs want

Earning a fair wage and owning a home are top priorities for young people in the Middle East – even more important than living in a democracy.

According to the 2012 Arab Youth Survey, which polls 2,500 young Arabs in 12 countries across the Gulf, Levant and North Africa, there are serious problems facing young people in the region. But they still have a bright outlook on the future.

“While these young people have shared their profound concerns about the cost of living and the price of home ownership…they remain firmly optimistic. It is so heartening that when Arab youth look forward, they also continue to look up,” said Joseph Ghossoub, Chairman and CEO of the MENACOM Group, regional parent of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, the PR agency that conducted the study.

“You can see the great promise of Arab youth throughout this survey: in the level of engagement in current affairs, in the sophisticated use of technology, and in the tempered expectations for the post-Arab Spring era,” said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO, Burson-Marsteller, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Key insights into the minds of Middle East youth

Rising cost of living is the greatest concern
63% say that they are “very concerned” about the cost of living, up from 57% last year, when this was also their greatest concern.

Democratic deficit major problem
41% consider lack of democracy the greatest barrier facing the region; an equal percentage identify civil unrest as the biggest obstacle.

Life is better after the Arab Spring
72% thinks that, following the events of the Arab Spring, the region is better off today; 68% say they are also personally better off now than they were a year ago.

Increased trust in governments
Nearly three-quarters believe their government has become more trustworthy and transparent since the events of the Arab Spring – at the same time that concerns about corruption have skyrocketed.

Traditional and new values in conflict
A majority of young people in every Middle Eastern state agrees that traditional values are paramount; however, the percentage of youth who say that such values are out-dated and need to be replaced continues to increase.

United Arab Emirates is model nation
Looking across the region and the world, Middle East youth see the United Arab Emirates as the country where they would most like to live – and which they would most like their own nation to emulate.

France most popular foreign country
France is viewed most favourably among all foreign nations, with 46% of respondents saying they are “very favourable” towards that nation. Positive views of China and India have increased.

Growing news consumption
Arab youth are following the news far more keenly than ever before – with 52% of regional young people now saying they update themselves on news and current affairs every day, up from just 18% in 2011.