A record two-thirds of young Arabs name the UAE as the country they would most like to live in and their own to emulate for the 11th consecutive year

September 21, 2022
  • With 57% of respondents saying the UAE was their model nation, the country’s popularity is at its highest for 11 years
  • The UAE’s growing economy, safety, high salaries and respect for Arab culture are major attractions, according to the research

Dubai, UAE; September 21, 2022: Arab youth have named the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the country they would most like to live in and their own to emulate for the 11th straight year. According to the results of the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, the largest study of the MENA region’s largest demographic, its 200 million plus youth, nearly two-thirds (57%) of Arab men and women aged between 18 and 24 identify the UAE as their top choice, ahead of the United States (24%), Canada (20%), France (15%) and Germany (15%).

The popularity of the UAE as a place to live is at its highest point since the Arab Youth Survey began asking the question in 2012. That year, 33% of respondents said the UAE was the country they preferred to live in, followed by France and the US.

The appeal of the UAE is spread across the MENA region, with 51% of North African youth saying it was their preferred country to live in, followed by the US (24%). It was the number one choice of Levant youth (57%), followed by Canada (31%), and the preferred country to live in of 63% of GCC nationals, followed by the US (19%).

For the 11th year running, the UAE is also the country most young Arabs want their own to be like. The model nation for 37% of Arab youth overall, the country ranked ahead of the US (22%), Canada (18%), Germany (14%), France (11%) and Turkey (11%).

Growing UAE economy a major draw for Arab youth

This year, ASDA’A BCW, the MENA region’s leading communications consultancy, commissioned IDS Research & Consultancy to conduct face-to-face interviews with 3,400 Arab youth from May 13 to June 16 in 50 cities across 17 Arab states, with the sample equally split between men and women.

According to the research, the top five attractions of the UAE are its growing economy (27%), its safe and secure environment (26%), its generous salary packages and the wide range of work opportunities it provides (both cited by 22% of interviewees), and the country’s effective leadership (17%).

The UAE’s respect for the region’s cultural traditions, the quality of its education system, the ease of starting a business, and the UAE’s low taxes were other attractions.

Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “As the region’s model nation for the 11th straight year, the UAE continues to be a beacon of hope and opportunity for young Arab men and women across the Middle East & North Africa.

“The enduring popularity of the UAE is a testament to the visionary leadership of the UAE, which staged one of the most successful World Expos in the event’s history – despite the global disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – and is now preparing to host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in November, 2023.”

John added: “What is perhaps most telling is the fact that the UAE scores highly on all the issues that Arab youth said were most important to them in our research, such as job opportunities, education quality and the preservation of the region’s cultural traditions and values.”

Emirati youth welcome the nation’s new directives for sustainable growth

Most Emiratis welcome the UAE’s new directives for sustainable growth, according to the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey. More than nine in 10 (94%) say they approve of the recent introduction of longer residence visas for expatriates and new rules to obtain them more easily; 84% support the decision to allow expatriates to fully own onshore companies; 83% approve of the soon-to-be-introduced corporation tax; and nearly nine in 10 (87%) accept the adoption of a Monday-to-Friday working week. Moreover, more than half (54%) say they accept the right of unmarried couples to live together.

Emirati youth universally optimistic

Most Arab youth say their best days lie ahead, but Emirati youth are particularly optimistic, with 91% saying their best days lie ahead of them, and all saying the country’s economy was going in the right direction. Nearly half of the UAE citizens (48%) interviewed in the study said it was easy to find a job.

While undoubtedly privileged compared with their fellow Arabs in other countries, Emiratis are not oblivious to the challenges facing the region, with 45% identifying rising living costs as its biggest obstacle, followed by unemployment (27%) and climate change (18%).

Religion and nationality key to personal identity

A third of Emirati respondents each (33%) said their religion and nationality were most important to their personal identity, compared with 41% of Arab youth overall who cited their religion as key.

Like their Arab peers around the region, a clear majority of young Emiratis (75%) say it is more important to preserve the Arab world’s religious and cultural identity than to create a more globalised society. However, while 55% of Arab youth overall say the Arabic language is less important to them than it is to their parents, half of young Emiratis say the opposite.

The apparent conservatism of Emirati youth is counterbalanced by the near universal acceptance of gender equality. Nearly one in 10 (89%) UAE citizens say men and women have equal rights, while 84% say they have the same employment opportunities.

For the full findings of the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, log on to arabyouthsurvey.com