Arab Youth Survey 2017

The latest ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2017 shows that the youth in the Arab World may be closer to their western counterparts viewpoint than many think.

Arab Youth Survey
Arab Youth Survey

The survey was conducted in 16 Arab countries including Oman, where it was asked to 200 people (one assumes nationals of Oman and other states where the questioning took place rather than any Arab living in that state) from the urban areas of Muscat and Al Batinah (combined they represent less than 50% of Oman’s population). Overall 3,500 face-to-face interviews from February 7 to March 7, 2017 were conducted with Arab men and women aged 18 to 24.

Its clear that the wealthy GCC states have a largely satisfied young population with 85% believing their country is ‘going in the right direction’ compared to 51% in North Africa and only 14% in the Levant and (North) Yemen (the survey appears not to have been done in the former South Yemen.

A similar, though less pronounced split was given to the questions “Our best days are ahead of us” with GCC 78% North Africa 61% & Levant and North Yemen 32%. If the economy in your country is going in the right direction or in the wrong direction yes from GCC 61%, North Africa 52%  and Levant and North Yemen 21%  (these figures have slipped from 2016 reflecting worsening economies).

Arab Youth Survey
Arab Youth Survey

As in the West young Arabs feel largely overlooked by governments (even though they feel their country is going in the right direction) with an overall 81% agreeing with the sentiment. Unemployment 35% and terrorism in general (Daesh 35% & Threat of Terrorism34%) were the two main obstacles that the youth mentioned. Lack of opportunities for women mentioned by 11% and Anti-Muslim sentiments 6% were at the bottom of concerns.

The fortunate youth in the GCC, who have had access to cradle to grave free education, give a resounding 80% satisfied rating to their education, though at they same time 41% are ‘very concerned’ about the quality of education.

Arab Youth Survey
Arab Youth Survey

The young population are attracted by the apparent success of the UAE (presumably Abu Dhabi & Dubai specifically ) with 35% wanting to live there, with 36% also wanting their country to be like it. These feelings were explored in more depth (the surveying company is based in Dubai) with the UAEs security, Economy and Work opportunities highlighted.

Remarkably Russia is now viewed more favourably than the USA, perhaps their lack of access to the non-metropolitan area of Russia and its state-controlled media have a part to play here with 21% believing its their country’s ‘biggest ally’ compared to 17% saying the same of the USA. In general, the US is increasingly negatively viewed by Arab Youth, fuelled by their perception of Donald Trump


Despite Arabic (the language of the Quran) being central to 80% of young Arab’s national identity  60% also feel Arabic is losing its value. This finding is compounded by 68% of all GCC youth questioned saying that they use English more than Arabic in their daily lives.

As in the West non-traditional media is increasingly used to obtain news and make social interactions – with Facebook used by 68% to share news – and Facebook and WhatsApp each used by 68% daily and all social media being used more frequently compared to 2016.

If you want more than my snippets find the full survey here 

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman