Survey: Saudi youth very optimistic about future

Survey: Saudi youth very optimistic about future

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Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Saudi youth are overwhelmingly positive about their futures and believe their government is putting the right policies in place to address their needs, according to findings from the 9th annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2017, released Wednesday.

An overwhelming majority (94 percent) of Saudi youth said that they believe that the Kingdom has been heading in the right direction over the past five years, while 92 percent were confident that the government is developing the right policies focused on the youth.

In the GCC states, 85 percent of young people are confident that their country has been heading in the right direction over the past five years, compared with 52 percent for Arab youth across the region.

Three quarters (78 percent) of GCC youth also believe their “best days are ahead of them” compared with 58 percent for Arab youth as a whole; and 82 percent of young people in the GCC believe their economy is on the right track versus just 52 percent on a region-wide basis.

Furthermore, 86 percent of Gulf youth believe their governments are putting the right policies in place that will benefit young people — an opinion held by just 57 percent of young Arabs across the whole Middle East.

Sunil John, Founder & CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “For the GCC states, the findings from this year’s Survey are encouraging. Not only are young people optimistic about the future, they have confidence that their governments are doing the right things for them. This is not the story in the rest of the region. The positivity and optimism of Gulf youth are a real bright spot in the Middle East today, but one that also highlights a growing trend of a polarisation of views, inspiring the main theme of this year’s Survey: ‘The Middle East — a region divided.’”

Roy Haddad, Director, WPP MENA, said: “The Arab Youth Survey provides a voice to the voiceless, and allows young Arabs to be heard around the world. It allows us to hear what Arab youth think and feel about their past, present and future. As such, it is an invaluable tool for businesses and governments, and civil society in general, who need accurate data and insights about this most important demographic.”

Elsewhere in the Survey, findings reveal that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are viewed as the region’s top allies, ahead of international powers including the US and Russia.

A third of young Arabs surveyed across 16 countries say that KSA and UAE are top allies of their country, with 34 percent saying Saudi Arabia (up from 31 percent in 2016).

The Survey reveals that, in 2017, support for the US has fallen markedly: 17 percent of young Arabs see US as their most important ally, down 8 percentage points from 2016 and, for the first time, more young people see Russia as their top international ally — an increase of 12 percentage points from 2016.

The threat posed by Daesh — viewed last year as the number one issue facing the Middle East —  is seen as diminishing, this year tying with unemployment as a top concern for 35 percent of the region’s young people.
Most young Arabs (61 percent) also believe the terror group is getting weaker and, across the region, young people think education reform and well-paying jobs are just as important as military action in defeating terror and extremism.

Other key findings from the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2017:

Many young Arabs say their education system falls short of preparing students for jobs of the future

The quality of education is a cause of concern for young Arabs, particularly in non-GCC nations. Nearly half the Arab youth say they are not satisfied with the current level of preparation of students for jobs of the future. Of the 51 percent who say they are satisfied the current education system is preparing them for future roles, most are from the GCC nations (80 percent) while those least satisfied hail from North Africa (33 percent) and the Levant and Yemen (34 percent).

The UAE sprints ahead of the pack as the country in which most young Arabs would like to live and want their countries to emulate
The United Arab Emirates cemented its position as the country most young Arabs would like to live in and would most like their own countries to take after. This year, one in three (35 percent) young Arabs say they would most like to live in the UAE, a significant increase of 13 percentage points from last year. Asked which country they would like their own country to emulate, the UAE again comes on top, with more than a third of young Arabs (36 percent) saying the UAE is their model country, compared with one in four last year.

Despite their pride in the Arabic language, most young Arabs say they are using English more than Arabic in their daily lives
While 80 percent of young Arabs agree to the statement ‘Arabic is central to my national identity.’ Yet, 60 percent of young Arabs agree that Arabic is losing value and, for the first time, more than half of young Arabs (54 percent) say they are using English more than Arabic in their daily lives (up from 46 percent in 2016).

Among young Arabs, Facebook is the No. 1 medium for daily news
More than a third (35 percent) of young people in the Arab world say they get their news on Facebook daily, compared with 31 percent for other online news sources, 30 percent for TV news channels, and just 9 percent read newspapers daily. Two-thirds (64 percent) say they use Facebook to share news stories, up from 52 percent in 2016 and 41 percent in 2015. — SG

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