“Our best days are ahead of us” say three-quarters of Arab youth in 5th
annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey
*Arab youth have a greater sense of national identity after the Arab
Spring, with 87% saying they are “more proud to be an Arab”
*Being paid a fair wage and home ownership remain their highest priorities,
and rising living costs their top concern
*UAE continues to be seen as a model nation, while France, Germany and
China are regarded most favourably among countries outside MENA
DUBAI, UAE -- April 9, 2013
Representing a resounding vote of confidence in the Middle East and North
Africa’s future outlook, three-quarters of Arab youth, the region’s largest
demographic, say their best days are ahead of them in the fifth annual ASDA’A
Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, released today. An overwhelming 74% of
all Arab youth surveyed in 15 countries across MENA agree with the statement:
“Our best days are ahead of us”.
A ground-breaking initiative of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, the leading public
relations consultancy in MENA, the Arab Youth Survey is aimed at providing
reliable data and insights into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s
200 million-strong youth population, informing policy- and decision-making of
both government and the private sector.
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller selected international polling firm Penn Schoen
Berland (PSB) to complete 3,000 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab
national men and women aged 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council
countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain), Iraq, Egypt,
Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and in three new countries added this year:
Morocco, Algeria and Yemen. The survey was conducted between December 2012 and
In each of the 15 countries surveyed, a clear majority are optimistic about
the future, with a nearly equal percentage of youth in the Gulf and non-Gulf
states (76% and 72%, respectively) saying “our best days are ahead of us”.
Likewise, more than half (58%) believe their country is “heading in the right
direction” considering the last 12 months, while 55% say their national
economy is also heading in the right direction.
In the wake of the Arab Spring, regional youth are prouder than ever of their
national identity – and they increasingly embrace modern values and beliefs.
Nearly nine out of 10 young Arabs (87%) feel “more proud to be an Arab”
following the uprisings, and 59% believe recent changes in their country will
have a positive impact on them and their family. Two-thirds (67%) feel “better
off” following the events of the Arab Spring and 45% believe their national
government has become more transparent.
For the second consecutive year, “being paid a fair wage” is the highest
priority of Middle East youth, cited by 82% of all those surveyed. The
importance of fair pay is followed by home ownership, with 66% of Arab youth
describing “owning their own home” as “very important”. Tellingly, nearly a
fifth (15%) of young Arabs believe they will never be able to afford their own
Rising living costs remain the number one concern of Arab youth, also for the
second straight year in the annual study, with 62% saying they are “very
concerned” about the issue. According to the latest findings, the rising cost
of living is a bigger worry than “the economy”, “the threat of terrorism”,
“events of the Arab Spring” and “unemployment”.
“Civil unrest” and “lack of democracy” are identified as the main obstacles in
the way of the MENA region’s development, while “lack of Arab unity”, the
“Palestinian-Israeli conflict” and “lack of political direction” are other
barriers. GCC and non-GCC youth are equally concerned about civil unrest, with
44% in both sets of countries highlighting the issue as the Arab World’s
Meanwhile, the UAE continues to be regarded as a model nation. Asked to name
the country, anywhere in the world, where they would most like to live, Arab
youth, as they did in 2012, cite the UAE as their preference. The UAE is the
top choice of 31% of Arab youth across the 15 countries surveyed, followed by
France (18%), the United States and Turkey (16%).
When asked which country in the world they would most like their country to be
like, the UAE again retains its first-place ranking, with nearly a third of
all youth (30%) voting for that country.
A fifth of Arab youth would also prefer their country to follow the UAE’s
model of development; the country ranks first ahead of France, the United
States and China (each country the preference of 11% of respondents), Turkey
(9%) and Germany (7%).
France is the country outside MENA regarded most favourably by Arab youth,
followed by Germany and China. But out of France, Germany, China, the UK, the
United States and India, only India has experienced an increase in
favourability since the last Arab Youth Survey in 2012; 29% of youth describe
their perception of the country as “very favourable”, up from 28% last year.
Two years on from the start of the Arab Spring, the overall percentage of
young people updating themselves on news and current affairs daily appears to
have fallen, from its 2012 peak of 52% to 46% this year.
Representing a significant shift in media consumption patterns, television is
now the primary source of news for 72% of regional youth (up from 62% in
2012), while 59% of all Arab youth rely on online news sources, an 8% increase
Newspaper readership among Arab youth continues to plummet, from 62% in 2011,
to 32% in 2012 and 24% this year. Magazines have experienced a slight gain
from last year, but only 8% of Arab youth say they get their news from
magazines. By comparison, social media is cited as the primary source of news
of 28% of all Arab youth, up from 20% last year.
Television continues to be the most-trusted news source, cited by 40% of
respondents, but trust in TV has dropped, from 49% in 2012 and 60% in 2011.
Likewise, newspapers are haemorrhaging trust, with only 9% of respondents to
this year’s Arab Youth Survey citing print dailies as their most-trusted
source of news. Meanwhile, the percentage of Arab youth who say they consider
social media to be their “most-trusted source of news” has nearly tripled from
2012 to 22%.
Joseph Ghossoub, Chairman and CEO of the MENACOM Group, the regional parent
company of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “The fifth ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller
Arab Youth Survey illustrates that despite the negative media headlines
attributed to the region, Arab youth retain a strong sense of hope for the
future and are determined to achieve a better life for themselves and their
families. However, the issues identified by the Arab Youth Survey are
persistent and deep-rooted and require the ongoing attention of decision
makers across the MENA region.”
Jeremy Galbraith, CEO, Burson-Marsteller, Europe, Middle East and Africa,
said: “Arab youth continue to fascinate and confound international observers
and their unwavering optimism is an example to their peers around the world.
From their attitudes towards their region and countries beyond it, Arab youth
are clearly displaying an increased confidence in their own ability to shape
their collective future – a development which poses significant challenges and
opportunities to the region’s leadership.”
Sunil John, Chief Executive Officer of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, added: “Every
year ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller conducts the Arab Youth Survey because we
understand the importance of providing reliable data here in the Middle East,
where research into public opinion is often limited. This substantial
investment in thought leadership demonstrates our firm belief in the principle
of evidence-based communications.
“We hope the findings of the latest Arab Youth Survey will contribute to
further constructive dialogue on realising the hopes and aspirations of young
people across the Arab World.”
The findings of the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2013 were
unveiled at a high-profile panel discussion in Dubai attended by local
dignitaries and VIPs. The evening debate was led by His Excellency Mohamed
Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties, and fellow panellists Dr Tarik Yousef,
Chief Executive Officer, Silatech, Qatar; Dr Adel Al Toraifi, Editor-in-Chief,
Asharq Al-Awsat and Al Majalla magazine; and Hassan Fattah, Editor-in-Chief,
Moderated by Nima Abu-Wardeh, Presenter of BBC World’s Middle East Business
Report, the assembled audience considered the implications of the survey
findings for government decision makers, the business community, media and
wider civil society, as well as the new thinking and policy changes required
to address the hopes and concerns of Arab youth.
More in-depth findings from the fifth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab
Youth Survey are freely available from the study’s dedicated website:
Note to Editors:
About ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller:
Established in 2000, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller is the region’s leading public
relations consultancy, with 11 fully-owned offices and 10 affiliates across
the Middle East and North Africa. A WPP company within the global
Burson-Marsteller network, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller is a member company of the
The agency provides services to governments, multinational businesses and
regional corporate clients through its seven practices in the sectors of
Technology, Corporate, Finance, Healthcare, Consumer Marketing, Public
Affairs, and Energy & Environment. Its services include reputation management,
crisis & issues management, digital communications, media relations, media
monitoring & analysis, and event management. www.asdaabm.com
Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations
and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and
program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs,
reputation and crisis management, advertising and web-related strategies. The
firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 75 offices and 85 affiliate
offices, together operating in 110 countries across six continents.
Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Group, a subsidiary of WPP
(NASDAQ: WPPGY), the world’s leading communications services network.
About the MENACOM Group:
MENACOM, part of WPP and Y&R Group, with headquarters in Dubai, is the Middle
East and North Africa region’s leading communications conglomerate. The group
includes, in addition to ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, advertising agencies Young
& Rubicam, Intermarkets and Partnership; direct marketing specialists
Wunderman; media specialist firm MEC; and interactive firm Tattoo. With over
900 employees in its network of 37 offices, MENACOM provides marketing
communications services in 12 countries across the Middle East and North
About Penn Schoen Berland:
Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), a member of Young & Rubicam Group and the WPP
Group, is a global research-based consultancy that specialises in messaging
and communications strategy for blue-chip political, corporate and
entertainment clients. PSB’s operations include over 200 consultants and a
sophisticated in-house market research infrastructure with the capability to
conduct work in over 90 countries. The company operates offices in Washington,
D.C., New York, London, Seattle, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dubai,
Beijing, Austin and Denver, which are supported by an in-house fielding
capability and are fully equipped to provide the complete creative solutions
PSB clients need. www.psbresearch.com
Sunil John/Bashar Al Kadhi
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