Doha: Young people in the Arab World are embracing modernity as digital technologies and media reshape behaviour.
However, it is opinions and influences of family, friends and religion that matter most to them, the sixth annual Asda’a Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey shows.
About 46 percent of youth agreed that “traditional values are outdated and belong to the past; I am keen to embrace modern values and beliefs”.
Although modernists remain a slight minority, this are the closest results that have come to parity in the survey’s history, up from 17 percent in 2011.
However, family, friends, and religion remain the greatest influences on the young, with two-thirds of respondents citing their parents (67 percent) as their first source of advice and counsel, followed by family (58), religion (56) and friends (46).
In the increasingly urbanised economies, the importance of family, particularly parental ties, remains strong. However, external forces are increasing their sphere of influence, with community leaders rising from 33 percent in 2013 to 38 and social media and bloggers reaching 35.
The Arab Youth Survey is an annual initiative of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, the leading public relations consultancy in the Mena region. Its sister agency, international polling firm PSB, completed the survey for the sixth edition. It conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews — men and women aged 18-24 in the six GCC countries, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen and, for the first time, Palestine — between December 2013 and January 2014.
About 54 percent of respondents agree ‘a lot’ with “Following the uprisings across the Arab world, I feel the Arab world is better off”, down from 70 percent in 2013 and 72 in 2012. The rising cost of living and unemployment were identified as the two biggest concerns. About 63 percent say they are ‘very concerned’ about rising living costs, while 49 percent are concerned about unemployment. This concern is strongest in non-GCC countries with 55 percent citing it as their biggest concern. Though still high at 39 percent, the youth in the Gulf are less concerned than their counterparts in the rest of the Arab world, with governments providing some reassurance.
Favourability towards the private sector is steadily rising in the Gulf, with 31 percent saying they would like to work in the sector, up from 24 percent in 2013. Preference for the private sector in non-GCC countries is declining at 31 percent in 2014. For the third successive year, youth cite UAE as their top choice (to live in) ahead of 20 countries, including the UK, the US and Germany.
Asked to think about their country’s biggest ally, the youth are choosing their GCC neighbours over traditional Western countries as Gulf governments’ political weight grows.
They cite four of the six GCC members in their country’s top five allies with 36 percent saying Saudi Arabia is their country’s biggest supporter, followed by the UAE (33), Qatar (25) and Kuwait (25). The US is the only Western country to feature in the top five allies, at 22 percent.
The findings of Arab Youth Survey were presented to media yesterday. Don Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO of Burson-Marsteller and CEO of PSB; Joseph Ghossoub, Chairman and CEO of the MENACOM Group, the regional parent company of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller; and Sunil John, Chief Executive Officer of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, were present.