Students at Skyline University College in Sharjah. The UAE’s growing popularity saw respondents favour the country in almost double the number than that of the United States. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: One in three Arab youth aged 18 to 24 interviewed for the ninth annual Arab Youth Survey 2017 says the UAE is the most preferred country they would like to live in.

The finding was released on Wednesday as the landmark survey was rolled out in Dubai by Asda’a Burson-Marsteller and once again suggested that the UAE is becoming the country of choice for Arab youth across the Middle East.

This is the sixth year in a row that the UAE has been ranked top country with an even stronger showing this year as 35 per cent of 3,500 Arab youth polled in 16 countries said the emirates was their preferred choice, 13 percentage points higher than last year.

The UAE’s growing popularity saw respondents favour the country in almost double the number than that of the United States.

The UAE outranked the United States as the preferred country (US received 15 per cent) while Canada and Saudi Arabia were preferred by 14 per cent and Germany by 13 per cent.

Sunil John, founder and CEO of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, said during the survey’s release that “young people want a job, a place to start a family” citing the UAE as an ideal country to build a future.

John said reasons for the UAE’s top billing by respondents were safety and security (31 per cent), having a growing economy (25 per cent), wide range of work opportunities (23 per cent) and generous salary packages (22 per cent). A high-quality education system (17 per cent), being a good place to raise a family (17 per cent) and ease of starting a business (14 per cent) are other positive attributes associated with the UAE.

“This is a strong statement on the success of the nation’s model of economic diversification and its focus on creating job opportunities and driving the entrepreneurial skills of young people. Young Arabs see the UAE as a beacon of hope and by endorsing its development model, they are applauding the vision of the country’s leadership,” John said. “Arab youth value a sense of security, economic growth potential, job opportunities and high quality education. With all those factors found in abundance in the UAE, it’s no surprise that the UAE’s position as a regional success story is viewed so positively by young Arabs.”

Roy Haddad, director, WPP Mena, said: “The Arab Youth Survey provides a voice to the voiceless, and allows young Arabs to be heard around the world. It allows us to hear what Arab youth think and feel about their past, present and future. As such, it is an invaluable tool for businesses and governments, and civil society in general, who need accurate data and insights about this most important demographic.”

To ensure a balanced view of youth, Curtis Freet, CEO of PSB Research, the international polling firm that conducted the survey, said the survey was careful to provide balanced views with a 50-50 split between males and females.

The survey was conducted to provide the government and private sector with insights into the hopes, concerns and aspirations of Arab youth.

Freet said his firm conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with Arab national men and women aged 18-24 between February 7 and March 7, 2017, in the six Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia), the Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestinian Territories) and Yemen.

On Tuesday, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minster of State for Tolerance, referred to Arab Youth Survey while speaking at the main session on the second day of the Arab Media Forum (AMF). She said that a large number of Arab youth selected the UAE as the country that offers young people the “Arab Dream”.

Discussing the true impact of tolerance on a society during the session ‘Tolerance … promoting dialogue,’ Shaikha Lubna pointed out the “negative tone and individualistic language” being adopted around the world are undermining the true values of communities.

She further highlighted the importance of a Ministry of Tolerance and a national tolerance programme to ensure the peaceful coexistence of over 200 nationalities in the UAE.