UAE. The most important priority for young people in the Middle East today is living in a democratic country, according to the Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, the largest-ever study of its kind of the region’s largest demographic.
Good infrastructure, access to the best universities, being paid a fair wage, and living in a safe neighbourhood were identified as equally important priorities by Arab youth.
These are among the key findings of the nine-country survey unveiled today in Dubai by Karen Hughes, Global Vice Chair of Burson-Marsteller and former US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
Conducted by leading international polling firm Penn Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB), the Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey included 2,000 face-to-face interviews with Arab nationals and Arab expatriates between the ages of 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations, as well as in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.
Hughes said: “More than two-thirds of respondents were very concerned about the rising cost of living, while the shortage of affordable housing was their second biggest worry, followed by unemployment. But in general, youth in the Middle East are confident about the direction in which the region is heading. When asked to consider the last five years, 66% of Arab youth said their country of residence was going in the right direction.”
Increased public participation was seen as either ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ by the vast majority of youth across all the countries surveyed, from 85% of respondents in Oman to 99% of young people in Kuwait.
Joseph Ghossoub, Chairman and CEO of the MENACOM Group, regional parent of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller said: “By examining a wide range of issues, the insights from the survey will be of relevance to the broadest spectrum of experts, including policymakers, marketers, the business community and the media. Our hope is that the survey results will spark greater understanding of the priorities and indeed action on the ground.”
“Addressing the needs of the Middle East’s largest demographic requires carefully considered solutions informed by robust insights,” said, Sunil John, Chief Executive Officer of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, the Middle East’s leading public relations consultancy.
“We firmly believe that an evidence-based approach is essential to understanding and meeting those needs, which is why we embarked on the second and most ambitious edition of our Arab Youth Survey,” John said.
“This survey makes a valuable contribution to this critically important discussion about the future of the region’s youth.”
“The second survey has greater reach, more depth and is even more representative of the divergent views of the young men and women across the major Arab nations than the 2008 study which was based on an online survey.
By using face-to-face interviews, the 2009 research is even more representative than the inaugural study in 2008,” said Robert Kellman, Middle East Business Director of PSB.
”The interview sample is weighted to reflect the socio-economic make-up of the participating countries, the geographical distribution of the population within them, and the opinions of women as well as men,” he added.
The Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey explored a diversity of topics most relevant to young people in the region, from the financial crisis to foreign relations, to media consumption and online behaviour, to brand preferences and spending habits, to education and career aspirations, to how youth spend their free time.
Contrary to the common Western misperception of Arab youth as conservative and inward-looking, young Arab men and women see themselves as fully engaged global citizens and aspire to the same privileges and freedoms taken for granted in the West, according to the survey.
Other key findings of the Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey include the following insights:
• Arab youth are confident about the prospects for economic recovery in 2010
• Nearly four out of five claim to own a mobile phone
• Young Arabs increasingly live online, but nearly half read a newspaper every day
• Two thirds of Arab youth spend their free time in front of the TV
• More than a quarter of Arab youth are in debt
• Arab youth are increasingly looking East in response to the shifting global economy
• Youth in the Middle East are evenly split on their preferences to work in the government or private sector
• Within the region, the GCC and Levant are the most popular travel destinations for Arab Youth, who strongly prefer flying with their national airlines.
The highlights of the Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey will be presented Sunday evening to an audience of government, industry, marketing and media opinion-leaders.
The event will be chaired by Karen Hughes and debated by a panel of distinguished Arab thinkers.
Participants in the discussion moderated by Dr. Tarik Yousef, Dean of the Dubai School of Government, include:
• Najla Al Awadi, Member, UAE Federal National Council & Deputy CEO, Dubai Media Incorporated
• Abdulrahman Al Rashed, General Manager, Al Arabiya Television
• Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Managing Director, Abraaj Capital
• Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Chairman, Young Arab Leaders, UAE Chapter & Media Columnist
• Lubna Qassim, Lawyer & Legal Reform Specialist
• Ali Mostafa, Independent Filmmaker