CAIRO: Sixty-six percent of the Arab youth think their country of residence was going in the right direction during the last five years, the Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey revealed.
The survey also showed that “the most important priority for young people in the Middle East today is living in a democratic country.
The Second Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey was conducted by the international polling firm Penn Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB).
“In general, youth in the Middle East are confident about the direction in which the region is heading, Karen Hughes, Global Vice Chair of Burson-Marsteller and former US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, said.
This largest-ever study of its kind in this region included 2,000 face-to-face interviews with Arab nationals and Arab expatriates aged 18 to 24 in the six GCC nations, as well as in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.
“Our hope is that the survey results will spark greater understanding of the priorities and indeed action on the ground, said Joseph Ghossoub, CEO of the MENACOM Group, regional parent of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller.
The youth’s other priorities, mainly to live in a safe neighborhood and to have access to the best universities, show that “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.
The respondents said they are turning themselves increasingly towards the East in response to the shifting global economy.
The survey also showed that Arab youth are confident about the prospects for economic recovery in 2010.
Most respondents also ranked increased public participation as “very important or “somewhat important.
The survey also delivers some alarming insights: More than a quarter of the Arab youth are in debt – a global trend also well-known in Europe and the US.
“More than two-thirds of respondents were very concerned about the rising cost of living, followed by the shortage of affordable housing and unemployment, Hughes said.
Nevertheless, the Arab youth is globally astonishingly optimistic and confident in their future, their opportunities and the socio-political system they are living in compared to their European counterparts’ growing skepticism towards the state, the economy and the social traditions.
The survey also showed that nearly four out of five young people claim to own a mobile phone, almost half of the respondents read a newspaper every day and two thirds spend their free time in front of the TV.