Arab youths call for jobs and fair pay
In the wake of uprisings across the Arab world, the Middle East’s youth no longer see democracy as their top desire - they want work, a decent lifestyle and better wages, according to a new survey.
Their biggest concern after the uprisings is the high cost of living and while they say they have a better trust in government, they are more concerned than ever about corruption.
In the fourth annual Arab Youth Survey, conducted by ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, 2,500 young Arabs were interviewed in 12 countries and their answers to 170 questions revealed an amazing shift in aspirations.
Former UK politician Jeremy Galbraith is CEO for ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
He advised that governments should take note of what the 18-24-year-olds have to say.
He told 7DAYS: “The two countries last year that had the least clamour for democracy were Qatar and the UAE. Why is that? It’s because they have been responsible governments that basically have looked after people.
The greatest pressures were in countries like Egypt where few people kept the wealth and it was the same in Libya where there were huge pent-up frustrations with the results we saw.
“So what the results of the 2012 survey show is that Arab youth is pausing for thought - to see what happens. Democracy is still pretty high up on their list. They’re all conscious of the cost of living and are asking ‘what does this mean for me and my family on a day-to-day basis?’”
Galbraith said that in governments across the world, lawmakers tend to only listen for a while then go back to their “bad old ways”.
He added: “Arab youth has seen that change can happen when people get together and challenge government. This survey is good news for governments if they listen. But having seen change, people are going act if there is no real change.”
The poll, which is a unique barometer of the attitudes of Middle Eastern youth, is used by decision makers in companies and this year it has already been requested by seven governments in the region.
The 2012 results showed that being paid a fair wage (82 per cent) and house ownership (65 per cent) had overtaken living in a democratic country (58 per cent) as what was most important to youngsters.
Others in the list of top priorities were: living without fear of terrorism 58 per cent and access to high-speed internet 55 per cent.
See the whole revealing survey at www.arabyouthsurvey.com
YOUNG MINDS EAGER TO HEAR WORLD'S NEWS
The appetite for current affairs among the Arab world’s youth increased in 2012, the survey revealed.
Across the countries polled, 52 per cent of respondents update themselves on news every day - a massive rise on the 18 per cent who did so last year.
A huge 82 per cent also said they use the internet every day, with the majority using the web to write or read blogs (61 per cent), listen to music (58 per cent) or log on to facebook (56 per cent). When asked what they do on blogs, 48 per cent said they read them, 39 per cent post on a blog and 15 per cent have their own blog.
The most popular subjects for blogs are on fashion (53 per cent) followed by news and current affairs (45 per cent) and celebrity news (31 per cent).
Of those that do use Twitter, they tend to follow friends (86 per cent).
Celebrities and journalists are also followed widely on the site.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FOR UAE
The UAE was the most popular country when the youngsters aged 18-24 were asked about where they’d like to live.
The UAE got 33 per cent of the overall vote.
It was followed by France (17 per cent), the US (16 per cent), Turkey (16 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (14 per cent).
In a question which addressed the best growth and development, the UAE came out top with the US and China on 19 per cent, France and Germany on 17 per cent and the UK on just 12 per cent.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOUNG PEOPLE?
1 Fair pay and home ownership displace desire for democracy as the top priority.
2 High cost of living remains a great concern among Arab youths.
3 Arab youth say that lack of democracy and civil unrest are the biggest obstacles facing them and the region.
4 Regional youth see the Arab uprisings as a positive development and now feel greater optimism about the future.
5 Arab youth feel an increased sense of trust in government but have heightened concerns about corruption.
6 The Arab uprisings will not spread further, according to the region’s young people.
7 Traditional values are being increasingly challenged by a modern outlook.
8 The UAE is seen as a model nation by Middle East youth.
9 Arab youth see France most favourably among all foreign countries. Views of China and India are also increasingly positive.
10 News consumption skyrockets, TV viewership declines and online blogs are booming.