The Arab youth have spoken
The Arab Youth Survey reflects a positive outlook where young Arabs believe their best days still lie ahead...
April 9, 2013 7:01 by Muhammad Aldalou
I’m not big on surveys. There, I’ve said it. Journalists tend to like them because they fall into our laps in the form of semi-polished news handed on a silver platter. The downside is that all the statistical value they can offer goes out the window when you’ve got opposing human sentiment to argue with.
I recently attended Asda’a Burson-Marsteller’s (PR agency) conference to announce the results of the fifth edition of the Arab Youth Survey – an annual study that taps into the mindset of the Arab world’s largest demographic. The entire study is publicly available and there’s no doubt that it provides useful insights for those interested – even with the sample size from each country being arguably small, e.g., 200 from Egypt and 250 from the UAE.
Kipp was sincerely less cynical about its findings for one particular reason. We were told that interviews conducted with the survey’s three thousand participants (only Arab nationals between 18-24) were all held face-to-face – comissioned by polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) – and no feedback was taken digitally.
Sixty percent were men and forty percent were women and no expatriates were surveyed.
To encapsulate the results of the study, ten major findings were highlighted. You can read them all here, but some of them included the majority of Arab youth feeling quite optimistic about their future; the UAE being chosen as a role model nation and most favourable country to live in, rising living costs still being their biggest concern, Arab youth being extremely influenced by social media and newspapers and TV losing their ‘trustworthy’ titles. Also, 88 percent of Emiratis feel the UAE, as a country, is heading in the right direction.
Admittedly, like any other survey, there were some gaping holes and unanswered questions. The study covered a wide range of topics but because of an absence of a specific focus, it did not delve as deep into each area as we might have hoped. For instance, we know that the UAE has been voted as ‘most favourable’ among Arab youth (frankly, no surprises there) but what we missed out on is the precise reasoning behind the choice.
Similarly, Arab nationals are apparently losing trust in newspapers and looking to websites and social media for reliability and influence, but we don’t know why nor do we know what constitutes a website (newspapers have websites too). For that matter, what constitutes news? Most Emiratis are proud of where their nation is heading but how are they judging that?
We know that ‘fair pay’ is still among the highest priorities of Arab youth but once again, how do we quantify ‘fair’? After all, there tends to be a substantial financial gap between government jobs and private sector ones.
There are still many more questions to be answered but if the theme of the study – “our best days are ahead of us” – is anything to go by, it looks like the Arab youth is significantly more optimistic than they were last year. The full report is embedded below.