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Many Arab youths prefer the UAE over Western countries as their home. Photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: For the 10th year in a row, the UAE has once again emerged as the country that most Arab youth would like to live in – far ahead of the US, Canada and other Western nations – according to the 13th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey released today.

Almost half (46 per cent) of Arab youth also want their own governments to emulate the UAE as a model country. The UAE’s ‘growing economy’ and ‘wide range of work opportunities’ were the top drivers behind its appeal among youth.

Rising popularity

The survey found that there is a rise in the UAE’s attractiveness as the number one destination Arab youth would like to call home, from 46 per cent to 47 per cent year-on-year.

Comparatively, the US and Canada are still far behind, currently at 19 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

This year, the UAE has hit a perfect score (100 per cent) when it comes to its youth who ‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ that their voice matters to their country’s leadership. The percentage was 99 last year.

Figures at a glance Image Credit: ASDA'A/Gulf News

Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “With the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic now receding thanks to the leadership’s proactive efforts, and Expo 2020 Dubai underway amidst huge fanfare, a spirit of positivity and optimism is clearly detectable in this year’s findings, while the trust of Emirati youth in their nation’s economic vision remains universally high.”

The UAE is still the role model that the youth most want their own country to follow. However, there has been a readjustment – with 46 per cent of Arab youth affirming the same this year compared to 52 per cent last year.

Showing resilience

Students in the UAE seem to have been the least impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had shut down schools and universities worldwide. Speaking about their overall educational experience during the pandemic, around half (51 per cent) of Emiratis said they had seen a “negative impact” – the lowest such ratio in the region.

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The UAE had the lowest rate of students who felt a negative impact because of the pandemic. Photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Better life in the UAE

While nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of Emirati youth said they expected to have a better life than their parents, a staggering 99 per cent said their country’s economy was heading in the right direction, up from 97 per cent last year.

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No wonder, then, that 90 per of Emirati youth believe ‘our best days are ahead of us’.

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The UAE's economy and work opportunities are a main driver for its appeal. Image Credit: ASDA'A/Gulf News

Friendliest country

The UAE also leads when it comes to its perception among Arab youth as an ally. Between the three countries of the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – regarded as the ones with the most influence in their region – most youth (83 per cent) squarely place the UAE in their ally camp.

Saudi Arabia (80 per cent) came in second, with the US (57 per cent) in a distant third place.

Home sweet home

With such a strong performance in virtually all feedback sought from the youth, the UAE unsurprisingly also has the highest ratio (97 per cent) of nationals who have not considered leaving their homeland for another country.

National pride

“National pride is clearly a theme of our findings in the UAE, with 41 per cent of Emirati respondents saying their nationality is central to their identity, more than double the regional average,” said John.

“This shows just how powerfully the message of national unity conveyed by the UAE’s leadership has resonated with its young citizens.

“They also acknowledge the UAE’s efforts to promote gender equality, with more than eight in 10 saying that men and women have the same rights and equal access to employment; again, this is far above the regional average.”

‘Largest study’
The Arab Youth Survey is said to be the largest study of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic – its 200 million-plus youth.
The 13th edition, themed ’Hope for the Future’, was conducted by international research firm PSB Insights, of young Arabs in 50 cities and territories in 17 states in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The face-to-face interviews were conducted by “professional interviewers” from June 6 to 30, covering 3,400 young Arabs aged 18 to 24. All interviewees were nationals of their country.
The sample split was 50:50 male/female. The survey covered five of the six GCC states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE); North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia); and the Levant (Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Syria and Yemen).

Lingering concerns

Despite the positivity of UAE youth overall, nearly nine out of 10 (87 per cent) young Emirati men and women say they remain ‘very concerned’ or ‘somewhat concerned’ about the pandemic.

Another 82 per cent are worried about rising living costs.

While unemployment was a major challenge highlighted by this year’s cohort in MENA overall, only six per cent of Emiratis said either they or a family member had lost their job due to the pandemic.