Top 10 findings of the 8th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2016:
1. An overwhelming majority of young Arabs reject Daesh (ISIS) and believe the group will fail to establish an Islamic state While three in four Arab youth are concerned about the rise of Daesh, just one in six believes the terrorist group will ultimately succeed. Though concern is rising — with 50 percent of youth citing it as the biggest obstacle in the region, up from 37 percent last year — tacit support for the group is declining with just 13 percent agreeing they could see themselves supporting Daesh even if it did not use so much violence, compared with 19 percent in 2015.
2. Lack of jobs and opportunities is seen as the number one recruitment driver for Daesh A quarter (24 percent) of Arab youth believe that lack of jobs and opportunities for young people is one of the primary reasons why some are attracted to Daesh while one in four (25 percent) do not understand why anyone would want to join the militant group. Other reasons as to why some young people are attracted to Daesh include religious differences (18 percent), religious tensions between Sunnis and Shias (17 percent) and the rise of secular Western values in the region (15 percent).
3. Young Arabs believe Sunni-Shia relations are deteriorating and that religion plays too big of a role in the Middle East Nearly half (47 percent) of young Arabs believe that relations between the two sects have worsened in the last five years. Over half of young Arabs (52 percent) agree that religion plays too big of a role in the Middle East — a notion that extends across the Arab world, with 61 percent of youth in the GCC, 44 percent in the Levant & Yemen and 47 percent in North Africa agreeing.
4. Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the US are seen as top allies in the region
When asked to think about their country’s biggest ally, Arab youth cite Saudi Arabia (31 percent) for the fifth year running, followed by the UAE (28 percent), and the United States (25 percent). One of the biggest developments in regional relations since 2015 has been the rise of Iran, which has risen to the top 10 allies for the first time in the Arab Youth Survey, with 13 percent naming the country an ally.
5. Young Arabs are divided on the Iranian nuclear deal and the Syrian conflict While 45 percent of young Arabs support the Iranian nuclear deal, 39 percent oppose it. There are also sharp differences as to whether the Syrian conflict is a proxy war, a revolution or a civil war. Overall, a plurality (39 percent) of Arab youth view the conflict in Syria as a proxy war fought by regional and global powers, while 29 percent view it a revolution against the Bashar Assad regime and 22 percent believe it is a civil war among Syrians.
6. Five years after fighting for political freedom during the Arab Spring, today most young Arabs prioritize stability over democracy Optimism that the region would be better off in the wake of the Arab Spring has been steadily declining over the last five years. In 2016, just 36 percent of young Arabs feel that the Arab world is better off following the uprisings, down from 72 percent in 2012, at the height of unrest. The majority of young Arabs (53 percent) agree that promoting stability in the region is more important than promoting democracy (28 percent).
7. Arab Youth want their leaders to do more to improve the personal freedom and human rights of citizens, particularly women
Two-third of young Arabs (67 percent) want their leaders to do more to improve their personal freedoms and human rights. That belief extends across the region — 74 percent agree in the GCC countries, 57 percent in the Levant & Yemen, and 68 percent in North Africa. The number is the same (67 percent) when looking specifically at female freedom and rights.
8. The UAE is viewed as a model country that is economically secure, and is the most favored nation to live in and set up a business.
Nearly one in four young Arabs (22 percent) cite the UAE as the country they would most like to live in and just as many say it is the nation they would most like their country to emulate (23 percent). The UAE also ranked as the most preferred country for potential entrepreneurs to set up a business in, with one in four (24 percent) citing it as the top business destination in the Arab world, followed by Saudi Arabia (18 percent) and Qatar (13 percent).
9. Arab Youth are increasingly concerned about falling oil prices, but most still believe they are entitled to subsidised energy Two in three young Arabs (66 percent) say they are concerned about falling energy prices, up from 52 percent in 2015. Nearly four in five Arab youth (78 percent) still believe they are entitled to subsidised energy costs, and, if their government were to stop subsidising energy, nearly half (49 percent) believe the subsidies should be stopped only for expats
10. More young Arabs get their daily news online than from TV or print media
While 32 percent say they get their daily news online, 29 percent say they watch TV news and just 7 percent read newspapers daily (down from 13 percent in 2015. The growing role of social media as a news platform is also apparent, with 52 percent saying they use Facebook to share interesting news articles they read, up from 41 percent last year.