These are the top 10 findings of the 8th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2016.
1. An overwhelming majority of young Arabs reject Daesh (ISIS) and believe it will fail to establish an Islamic state.
While three in four Arab youth are concerned about the rise of Daesh, just one in six believes the terrorist group will ultimately succeed. Though concern is rising — with 50 per cent of youth citing it as the biggest obstacle in the region, up from 37 per cent last year — tacit support for the group is declining, with just 13 per cent agreeing they could see themselves supporting Daesh even if it did not use so much violence, compared with 19 per cent in 2015.
2. Lack of jobs and opportunities No 1 recruitment driver for Daesh
A quarter (24 per cent) of Arab youth believe that lack of jobs and opportunities for young people is one of the primary reasons why some are attracted to Daesh while 1 in 4 (25 per cent) do not understand why anyone would want to join the militant group. Other reasons include religious differences (18 per cent), religious tensions between Sunnis and Shiites (17 per cent) and rise of secular Western values in the region (15 per cent).
3. Deterioration in Sunni-Shiite relations
Nearly half (47 per cent) of young Arabs believe that relations between the two sects have worsened in the last five years. Over half of young Arabs (52 per cent) agree that religion plays a big role in the Middle East — a notion that extends across the Arab world, with 61 per cent of youth in the GCC, 44 per cent in the Levant and Yemen and 47 per cent in North Africa in agreement.
4. Saudi Arabia, UAE, and United States top allies in the region; Iran’s influence on the rise
Arab youth cite Saudi Arabia (31 per cent), for the fifth year running, as their biggest ally in the region, followed by the UAE (28 per cent), and the United States (25 per cent). One of the biggest developments in regional relations since 2015 has been the rise of Iran, which has risen to the top 10 allies for the first time in the Arab Youth Survey, with 13 per cent naming the country as an ally.
5. Young Arabs divided on Iranian nuclear deal and Syrian conflict
While 45 per cent of young Arabs support the Iranian nuclear deal, 39 per cent oppose it. There are also sharp differences on whether the Syrian conflict is a proxy war, a revolution or a civil war. Overall, a plurality (39 per cent) of Arab youth view the conflict in Syria as a proxy war fought by regional and global powers, while 29 per cent view it as a revolution against the President Bashar Al Assad regime and 22 per cent believe it is a civil war.
6. Stability over democracy
Five years after the Arab Spring, most young Arabs prioritise stability over democracy. Post-Arab Spring optimism has been steadily declining. In 2016, just 36 per cent of young Arabs feel that the Arab world is better off following the uprisings, down from 72 per cent in 2012, at the height of the unrest. The majority of young Arabs (53 per cent) agree that promoting stability in the region is more important than promoting democracy (28 per cent).
7. Arab leaders should do more to improve personal freedom and human rights of citizens, particularly of women
Two-thirds of young Arabs (67 per cent) want more leadership involvement in personal freedom and human rights, a belief that extends across the region — 74 per cent in GCC countries, 57 per cent in the Levant and Yemen, and 68 per cent in North Africa. The number is the same (67 per cent) for female freedom and rights.
8. UAE a model country and the most favoured nation to live in and set up business
Nearly one in four young Arabs (22 per cent) believes this to be the case and just as many say it is the nation they would most like their country to emulate (23 per cent). One in four (24 per cent) cited the UAE as the top business destination in the Arab world, followed by Saudi Arabia (18 per cent) and Qatar (13 per cent).
9. Falling oil prices and subsidised energy
Two in three young Arabs (66 per cent) say they are concerned about falling energy prices, up from 52 per cent in 2015. Nearly four in five Arab youth (78 per cent) still believe they are entitled to subsidised energy costs and, if their government were to stop subsidising energy, nearly half (49 per cent) believe the subsidies should be stopped only for expats
10. Online over TV or print media
While 32 per cent say they get their daily news online, 29 per cent say they watch TV news and just 7 per cent read newspapers daily (down from 13 per cent in 2015). Social media as a news platform earned itself 52 per cent of votes this year, up from 41 per cent last year.