UAE. Western opinion influencers are less optimistic than they were a year ago about the political and economic impact of current events in the Arab world, according to the findings of a tracking poll conducted by APCO Insight®, the global opinion research group of consulting firm APCO Worldwide.
Those surveyed agree that the events known as the Arab Spring continue to affect the region. In fact, 80 percent continue to regard the Arab Spring as a Pan-Arab movement rather than the result of isolated circumstances in individual countries. But the tracking poll shows a shift on how events in the region are being assessed in the West.
"Our survey in 2011 indicated that the success of the Arab Spring would be measured by government progress on democratic values," said Mamoon Sbeih, managing director of APCO Worldwide in the Arab region.
"New findings show that opinion in the United States and Europe is changing and that confidence in the Arab world is now largely influenced by the reactions of citizens to their new governments."
Unfortunately, sustained violence and strife, coupled with a partial transition to democracy, is creating pessimism among Western opinion influencers, a perception that may adversely affect the region's investment climate.
Compared to 2011, this year's tracking poll found that more Western opinion leaders believe the Arab Spring will affect the investment climate, with a majority believing the financial impact of regional transformation will be negative.
"Westerners are now looking at investment scenarios, wondering if the turmoil is going to continue," said Sbeih. "While there are a few bright spots in the region, overall impressions are bleaker than they were at the height of the unrest. This increased negativity can be linked to broader political concerns about what types of government will emerge and whether or not they will welcome Western investment."
Arab media outlets continue to help define the Arab Spring for Westerners, reaching more opinion leaders today than in 2011. However, perceptions of Arab media coverage have shifted – the number of opinion leaders in the West who believe that the Arab media will be less open and free has nearly doubled – increasing from 17 percent to 31 percent in 2012.
The media's portrayal of Arab citizens also experienced a downward trend since 2011. Sixty-eight percent of opinion leaders in 2011 believed that citizens were portrayed positively during events of the Arab Spring; 51 percent consider the portrayal positive in 2012. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Western opinion influencers have lowered expectations for Arab society.
In 2011, nearly all of the opinion leaders surveyed held views of Arab society that were more favorable or neutral. The most recent results show that 16 percent of opinion leaders now have a less favorable view of Arab society.
This pessimism may influence concerns about how future governments will deal with Arab media and their citizens," said Sbeih.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
This survey is based on a random sample of 200 adult "opinion leaders" throughout the United States and Europe. Opinion leaders are influential individuals who represent the top 20 percent of the population, pay attention to current events and political issues, and are engaged in the community.
The initial research was conducted in 2011 among 343 opinion leaders in the same locations. A sample of 200 is subject to a sampling error of plus/minus 6.9 percent. The survey was completed online April 13-24, 2012.
ABOUT APCO WORLDWIDE
Founded in 1984, APCO Worldwide is an award-winning, independently owned global communication, stakeholder-engagement and business-strategy firm with offices in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. APCO clients include corporations and governments; industry associations and nonprofit organizations; and six of the top 10 companies on the Fortune 500. The firm is a majority women-owned business.
For more information, please visit www.apcoworldwide.com/