The Dubai skyline
The Dubai skyline as seen from Al Jaddaf. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: For the eighth year running, the UAE continues its surge as the Arab youth’s top country to work and live in, according to the Arab Youth Survey, which covered 15 countries.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday reviewed the Arab Youth Survey.

On his twitter page, Shaikh Mohammad said: “I reviewed the Arab Youth Survey that includes 15 countries. The most pressing issues among the youth is unemployment and rising living expenses. About 80 per cent voiced concerns over education quality and over 50 per cent pointed to mental health issues & easier drug access in their countries.

Shaikh Mohammad tweeted: “For the 8th year, the Arab youth finds the UAE the best place to work and live in, followed by Canada, the US and Britain. My message to them is the UAE was and will always be your country, a part of a beautiful Arab world that will continue prospering with your energy and aspirations”.

Two in five young adults in the Arab World see the UAE as a model nation and the number one country to live in for the eighth consecutive year, showed findings from the 11th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey released on Tuesday.

The survey is based on 3,300 face-to-face interviews conducted by international research firm PSB between January 6 and January 29, 2019 with young Arab nationals aged 18-24 in 15 states in the Middle East and North Africa, with a 50:50 male female split.

Around 44 per cent of young Arabs say the UAE is the country they would want to live in, followed by Canada (22 per cent), United States (21 per cent), Turkey (17 per cent) and the United Kingdom (15 per cent).

The UAE’s appeal to young Arabs includes the wide range of work opportunities offered (38 per cent), safety and security in the country (36 per cent), and generous salary packages (30 per cent).

Arab youth also consider the UAE as a good place to raise a family (22 per cent), with high-quality education system (20 per cent) and a welcoming and friendly place for expats (20 per cent).

The eight-year trend started in 2015, when 20 per cent of Arab youth selected the UAE as their preferred country to live in, a figure that has now more than doubled in 2019.

About 42 per cent of young Arabs stated they would like their country to emulate it, far surpassing any other Arab or Western country. The US and Japan tied in second position at 20 per cent each, followed by Turkey (19 per cent) and Canada (18 per cent) rounding out the top five.

The findings also showed that Arab youth view the UAE as a strong ally, with 93 per cent saying it is an ally of their country, surpassing other Arab states such as (Egypt 84 per cent ally; Saudi Arabia 80 per cent) and non-Arab (Turkey 68 per cent, Russia 64 per cent, and US 41 per cent).

“The UAE’s growing reputation among Arab youth as the best country to live in and for their nations to emulate highlights the forward-looking development strategy and future-focused vision of the UAE leadership,” said Sunil John, President, ASDA’A BCW.

He referred to the UAE’s investments in world-class infrastructure and their focus on building smart, sustainable cities as factors that appeal to young people offering job opportunities and a good quality of life.

“It is not just that the UAE is increasingly embracing tolerance,” said John.

“It’s that in doing so, the Emirates is going against the current sweeping across the region – and much of the world, for that matter – where we see nationalism on the rise. Here, we see a push towards openness, tolerance, and co-existence.”

Government’s role

As the region faces economic concerns, Arab youth feel entitled to government support, with 65 per cent agreeing that their government is not doing enough to help young families, showed the survey.

In the GCC, the number drops to 39 per cent, while countries in North Africa (74 per cent) and the Levant (83 per cent), strongly agree that their countries need to do more.

The rising cost of living (56 per cent) and unemployment (45 per cent) in the region are the dominant concerns among young Arabs, followed by other worries such as lack of Arab unity, slow economic growth, and conflicts around the region as well as threats of terrorism.

Between 2014- 2017, the worry amongst youth shifted from the rising cost of living to the civil unrest in the region and the rise of Daesh, showed the survey.

The findings also showed that 96 per cent of Arab youth believe that it is the government’s responsibility to provide safety and security, education (89 per cent), healthcare (88 per cent), energy subsidies (78 per cent), jobs (78 per cent), housing (60 per cent), and financial debt repayment (33 per cent).

The Arab Youth Survey is an annual survey prepared by [ASDA’A] Burson-Marsteller, to present evidence-based insights into the hopes, fears and aspirations of Arab youth, data and analysis that can inform decision-making in the region.