Dubai: After a decade of chronicling the hopes and fears of youth across the Middle East, the 10th annual Arab Youth Survey 2018 said a majority of 3,500 youth interviewed in 16 Arab countries wish to live in the United Arab Emirates more than any other country.

The survey themed “A Decade of Hopes and Fears” was released on Tuesday noting that for the seventh year in a row UAE was the top chosen country by young people.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, recognised the ongoing tribute to the UAE by Arab youth on his twitter account.

I say to the Arab youth: The UAE was and will remain the country of everyone ... I say to the governments: Arab youth wish to expand their dreams ... do not challenge them and do not kill them.”

 - Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

“Today I reviewed the results of the Arab Youth Survey, prepared by [ASDA’A] Burson-Marsteller, for the tenth year in 16 Arab countries. For the seventh year in a row, the UAE is the first country for Arab youth as the best country to live, followed by the United States and Canada,” Shaikh Mohammad tweeted. “The UAE is also the first country that the Arab youth wish their countries to adopt as their model ... I say to the Arab youth: The UAE was and will remain the country of everyone ... I say to the governments: Arab youth wish to expand their dreams and do not challenge them and do not kill them.”

Survey results showed that 35 per cent of respondents selected the UAE as top country followed by 18 per cent who chose the United States and 18 per cent wishing to live in Canada.

Similar to previous years, respondents said, “safety, security, and career opportunities are most widely associated with the UAE.”

In other findings, youth aged 18-24 shared their hopes, fears and aspirations and said they believe that the Arab Spring and the rise and decline of Daesh have “left the Middle East drifting off course.”

The survey shows that a majority [55 per cent] of this year’s respondents “particularly in the Levant, say the region has moved in the wrong direction over the past decade”.

ASDA’A Burson Marsteller Founder and CEO Sunil John said at the survey release in Dubai on Tuesday that the survey matters because of the young complexion of the region.

“This is a young region, 65 per cent of the population of the Middle East in under the age of 30. What young people think about current affairs really matters and in many ways shapes the future of the region,” the survey said.

Other factors contributing to the region’s misdirection include the digital revolution, [10 per cent], the global financial crisis [9 per cent], decline in oil prices [7 per cent] and the civil war in Syria [7] per cent.

In declining percentages, respondents also blamed the election of US President Donald Trump, the ride of Sunni-Shiite divide, war in Yemen, US troops withdrawing from Iraq and former presidency of Barack Obama as contributing to the region’s troubles.

In a second major finding, respondents replied that the region needs jobs, education and improved action on corruption and terror, survey respondents said.

Placing a strong third-place in the findings, respondents told the survey pollsters that they “see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as a strong leader who will shape the next decade”, the survey said.

A fourth finding followed up with a majority of Arab youth welcoming the move to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia but many said more action was needed to extend the rights of women throughout the region.

Mirroring Arab youth trends from previous years, Arab youth replied that Daesh “will be completely defeated” while simultaneously noting the United States is no longer the ally it once was.

“Over the past two years, there has been a dramatic shift in Arab youth’s perceptions of the US with a solid majority now saying America is an adversary of their country,” the survey noted.

Another major finding by the survey is that Arab youth in the Levant “have an increasingly bleak outlook compared with peers in North Africa and Gulf States” and are “significantly more pessimisitic than youth elsewhere in the region.

By contrast, young people in “the GCC are markedly more optimistic with eight in 10 saying their best days are ahead of them,” stated the survey.

On the media front, a ninth survey finding asserted that as younger people use social media to glean their news events, “they see CNN as the most trusted and Al Jazeera as the least trusted news sources.

“For the first time in the survey’s history, more young Arabs say they get their news on social media than TV, with half saying they get their news on Facebook daily.”

In its 10th finding, the survey said that it found future Arab entrepreneurs were turning to the tech sector where they believe opportunities lie for the future of the region.

“Opportunities abound in online retail and banking, among other sectors,” the survey said.

ASDA’A Burson Marsteller said interviews were conducted from January 21 to February 20 of this year.

Respondents numbered 200 from each country in the survey save UAE, Saudi and Egypt from which answers from 300 young Arabs were sampled.

In the UAE, respondents were chosen from across the country for interviews with 40 per cent in Abu Dhabi, 40 per cent in Dubai and 20 per cent in Sharjah.

The same held true for other countries with survey being taken in main cities across the countries for more accurate polling, said organisers.

“When analysed, this geographic spread provides a more accurate national picture than findings based solely on the responses of those living capital cities,” the survey said.