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In a survey among Arab Youth, the UAE emerged as the most admired nation. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Most admired for its safe and secure environment, growing economy, effective leadership, clean environment and ease of starting a business, the UAE was named their most preferred country to live in by Arab youth for the 12th consecutive year since they were asked to name the countries they consider ‘model nations.’

They also chose the UAE as the country they would most want their own to emulate. The US and Canada were ranked second and third, respectively, for the third year running.

Significantly, three GCC nations, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, appear in Arab youth’s top-five list of model nations for the first time in nine years.

Sheikh Mohammed's tweet:
On Tuesday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, stated in a tweet:

“For the twelfth year in a row, the UAE has emerged as the preferred country to live and work in, followed by the USA and Canada, among young Arabs surveyed across 53 cities in 18 Arab nations as part of the Arab Youth Survey.

“They also see it as the model they wish their own countries would emulate. We repeat our consistent message to the Arab Youth: The UAE is an Arab country.

"Its hand extends to the Arabs and remains open to helping achieve the dreams of the Arab youth. Our aspiration for the entire region is for it to rise and become a land known for realising dreams and contributing to human civilisation.”

15th annual survey

Young Arab men and women now say they would rather live in Qatar than the UK, while Saudi Arabia ranks joint-fifth with the UK in their list of countries they most want their own to emulate.

Sunil John, founder of ASDA'A BCW and President - Middle East of BCW, presents the Arab Youth Survey 2023 results at the Ritz Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.


These findings on model nations make up some of the key insights of the landmark 15th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, unveiled today by ASDA’A BCW, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading communications consultancy, under the theme ‘Living a New Reality’.

The annual survey is the largest study of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic, its over 200 million youth.

45,000 respondents in 15 years

There were 45,000 individuals surveyed in the last 15 years of the Arab Youth Survey.

For the 2023 poll, ASDA’A BCW commissioned SixthFactor Consulting, a leading research company, to conduct face-to-face interviews with 3,600 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 in their home nations from March 27 to April 12.

The largest sample in the survey’s history was equally divided between men and women in 53 cities across a total of 18 Arab states, including for the first time South Sudan.

The interviews were deliberately conducted face to face rather than online to maximise their accuracy and to reflect the nuances of Arab youth opinion across the region as much as possible.

Sunil John, founder of ASDA'A BCW and President - Middle East of BCW, noted that, in the past, the Arab youth had not received ample chances to participate in major discussions about their lives and aspirations.

“That's what inspired us to do the survey. What we bring every year is the voice of the youth," he said.

John said it was decided to go for staggered release of the findings this time with findings on Arab youths’ response about their politics, livelihood, identity, aspirations and lifestyle set to be revealed in a phased manner by September.

How many chose UAE and why?

Nearly one in four Arab youth (24%) named the UAE as the country they would most like to live in, followed by the US (19%), Canada (19%), Qatar (14%) and the United Kingdom (13%).

Qatar appears among the top-five model nations for the first time in eight years, reflecting the feel-good factor around the FIFA World Cup 2022.

The UAE was also named the country most Arab youth want their own to emulate, again for the 12th straight year. The UAE was identified by 22% of young Arab men and women overall, ahead of the US (19%), Canada (16%), Qatar (15%) and Saudi Arabia and the UK in joint fifth place (11%). This is the first time Saudi Arabia has been chosen as a country to emulate since 2017.

As in previous surveys, a variety of factors account for the UAE’s favoured-nation status. According to Arab youth in the 18 states surveyed this year, its top-five attributes are its safety and security (41%), growing economy (28%), effective and ‘visionary’ leadership (24%), clean environment (22%), and ease of starting a business (20%).

The UAE was also widely praised as a good place to raise a family (19%), for its plentiful job opportunities (17%), the quality of its schools (16%), its strong cultural identity and heritage (16%), and generous salaries (13%). The ease of obtaining a UAE residency visa was another plus point for 12% respondents.

UAE a lodestar

Sunil John said: “The UAE continues to be a lodestar for Arab youth seeking jobs, opportunity and the freedom to realise their full potential. The uncertainty elsewhere in the global economy only serves to underline the nation’s winning attributes and the sound vision of its leadership.”

“Today, GCC economies are increasingly investing in world-class infrastructure as they become dynamic hubs for trade, finance, tourism, education and healthcare.”

“Young Arabs see these countries as model nations because they appreciate the opportunities for jobs and prosperity being created and the potential to realise a better, more fulfilling life for themselves.”

“The rise of Qatar to be amongst the top-five nations to live in and to emulate is particularly noteworthy,” said John. “This reflects the hugely positive impact of the FIFA World Cup 2022 last November and December; without question, the tournament had a galvanising effect on both the regional economy and Arab pride,” he added.