Earning a fair wage and owning a home are now the two highest priorities for young people in the Middle East - displacing "living in a democracy" as the greatest aspiration of regional youth, according to the findings of the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012, the largest study of its kind of the region's largest demographic.
Informed by 2,500 interviews conducted by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) in 12 Middle East states one year after the start of the Arab Spring, the findings of the Fourth Annual ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey highlight how larger political concerns have now been superseded by more personal, economic anxieties.
Today, being paid a fair wage is not only the highest collective priority among those surveyed - with 82 per cent of all Arab youth citing it as "very important" - but is also the highest individual priority in each of the 12 countries covered.
Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who said that living in a democratic country is "very important" to them declined by 10 percentage points in the 2012 survey. This year, 58 per cent of Arab youth said that this is "very important" to them, down from 68 per cent in 2011.
These findings and others were unveiled today in Dubai at the launch of the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012. The survey includes face-to-face interviews with Arabs between the ages of 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), as well as in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and, for the first time, Libya and Tunisia. These interviews, which were conducted exclusively with nationals of each of the surveyed countries, took place in December 2011 and January 2012.
"Eighteen months after the start of the Arab Spring, we all know that Middle East youth are committed to forging an even brighter future," said Joseph Ghossoub, Chairman and CEO of the MENACOM Group, regional parent of ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller. "While these young people have shared their profound concerns about the cost of living and the price of home ownership, to cite just two examples, they remain firmly optimistic. It is so heartening that when Arab youth look forward, they also continue to look up."
"You can see the great promise of Arab youth throughout this survey: in the level of engagement in current affairs, in the sophisticated use of technology, and in the tempered expectations for the post-Arab Spring era," said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO, Burson-Marsteller, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"By charting the opinions of young Arab women and men from the modern cities of the oil-rich Gulf to rural areas in the Levant and North Africa," Galbraith said, "the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey provides evidence-based insights of great value to everyone with a stake in the future of this young and rapidly evolving region."
"Since 2008, we have been conducting the most representative and authoritative study of the attitudes of young Arabs - polling opinion, analysing this data and then sharing these important findings with the public, including governments, private-sector firms and civil society groups," said Sunil John, CEO of ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller. "We continue to make this signal investment in thought leadership - requiring a significant investment of our time, energy and capital - because we understand how important it is to be able to access reliable data here in the Middle East, where research into public opinion is in short supply.
"The ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012 - the largest study we have conducted to date - provides a wide range of rich insights that will shape public opinion and the policy-making process," John added. "We are proud to be able to make this contribution to the community we serve, and to the clients who place their trust in us every day."
Key findings of the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012 include the following insights:
• The rising cost of living is the greatest concern among Middle East youth; 63% of Arab youth now say that they are "very concerned" about the cost of living, up from 57% last year, when this was also their greatest concern
• 41% of Arab youth say that the lack of democracy is the biggest obstacle facing the region; an equal percentage identify civil unrest as the biggest obstacle
• 72% of Middle East youth agree that, following the events of the Arab Spring, the region is better off today; 68% of Arab youth say they are also personally better off now than they were a year ago
• Nearly three-quarters of Middle East youth believe their government has become more trustworthy and transparent since the events of the Arab Spring - at the same time that concerns about corruption have skyrocketed
• A majority of young people in every Middle East state agrees that traditional values are paramount; however, the percentage of youth who say that such values are outdated and need to be replaced continues to increase
• When Arab youth look across the region and the world, they see the United Arab Emirates as the country where they would most like to live - and as the country they would most like their own nation to emulate
• Young people in the Middle East today view France most favourably among all foreign nations, with 46% of respondents saying they are "very favourable" towards that nation; positive views of China and India have also increased
• Arab youth are following the news far more keenly than ever before - with 52% of regional young people now saying they update themselves on news and current affairs every day, up from just 18% in 2011
• Television remains the most important source of news for Arab youth, with 62% of respondents saying their turn on the TV to get their news - but that number has declined from 79% in 2011
• Today, reading or writing blogs is the top online activity among young people in the region, with 61% saying they engage with blogs, up from only 29% in 2011
A wide range of materials based on the findings of the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012 are available to the public at: www.arabyouthsurvey.com.