- A full 97% say their best days lie ahead and that their voice matters to their leadership
- Nearly half (43%) say they would prefer to work for the private sector, compared with one-third (34%) who say they favour government jobs
- Social media is the leading news source for young Saudis: WhatsApp, Snapchat and YouTube are the most popular apps, but the use of TikTok has nearly tripled in the past three years
Dubai, UAE; September 21, 2022: As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia prepares to celebrate its 92nd National Day on September 23 under the theme ‘This is Our Home,’ almost all young Saudis say they are confident the country is heading in the right direction and that their best days lie ahead of them.
This was one of the top findings of the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, the largest study of the Middle East & North Africa’s largest demographic, its 200 million plus youth, released today.
ASDA’A BCW, the region’s leading communications consultancy, commissioned IDS Research & Consultancy to conduct face-to-face interviews with 3,400 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 in 50 cities across 17 Arab states from May 13 to June 16, 2022. The sample was equally split between men and women.
Nearly all the young Saudis surveyed (99%) said they are confident that the Saudi Vision 2030 will secure a strong economy for the nation, while a similar number (97%) said their best days lay ahead of them. A full 97% said the country was going in the right direction, and nine in 10 said they will have a better life than their parents.
An impressive 98% of young Saudi men and women also said their voice matters to their country’s leadership, and that the government has the right policies to address their concerns, such as the quality of education, job creation and economic growth.
A preference for private sector jobs
The government’s recent private sector reforms appear extremely popular with young Saudis, with 96% saying they approve of measures encouraging more private sector involvement in the economy, and 93% of those polled either saying they strongly support or somewhat support reforms encouraging citizens to play a bigger role in business. Today, more young Saudi men and women say they would prefer to work in business than in a government job (43% versus 34%), while a quarter (23%) say they want to work for themselves or their family.
Overwhelming support for women entering the workforce
Challenging Western stereotypes of Saudi Arabia, over two-thirds (68%) of young Saudi nationals say men and women have equal rights, and 61% say they have equal work opportunities, according to the survey. And a full 96% say that women entering the workforce will positively impact the country.
Committed to faith and traditional values
While young Saudi men and women say they are embracing the Kingdom’s reform agenda, most also want to hold on to their traditional culture and values, according to the research. More than two-thirds (69%) say religion is most important to their personal identity, and 82% say preserving their religious and cultural identity is more important than creating a globalised society.
More than nine in 10 say that the laws of their country should be based on Sharia Islamic principles as opposed to common or civil law standards, while 79% say their attachment to the Arabic language is stronger than that of their parents. At the same time, however, three-quarters (79%) say religion plays too big a role in the Arab world.
US, France and UK are seen as strong allies
According to the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, young Arab men and women view China, Turkey and Russia as their country’s top three allies, but more than nine in 10 Saudi youth say the US, France and the UK are their strongest allies. Meanwhile, they believe their own country has the most influence in Arab world affairs, followed by the US, the UAE, Russia and the UK.
Unlike their counterparts in other Arab countries, who mostly say they support US disengagement from the MENA region, nearly three-quarters of young Saudis (71%) say they oppose US withdrawal from Arab world affairs. Saudi youth also have a different take on the Ukraine conflict. While most Arab youth say that the US and NATO are primarily responsible for the crisis, the largest number of Saudi youth (37%) say Ukraine is mostly at fault, with only 16% saying they hold the US/NATO accountable.
The social media generation
Young Saudis are heavy users of social media. According to the study, WhatsApp (98%), Snapchat (84%), YouTube (83%), Twitter (73%), TikTok (60%) and Facebook (55%) are the most popular platforms.
The use of TikTok has nearly tripled over the past three years, from 24% of young Saudis who said they used it every day in 2020 to 60% today. The popularity of Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter has also risen, but the daily use of Facebook has declined, from 82% in 2020 to 55% today, according to the research.
Unsurprisingly, social media is the most important news source for 43% of Saudi youth interviewed, followed by TV (27%) and online news outlets (23%). However, they say they trust all three news sources equally.
Rapid growth in online shopping
The number of Saudis shopping online has doubled over the past five years, according to the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, from 58% saying they bought products and services via websites and social media apps at least one a month in 2018, to virtually all respondents saying they shop digitally today. Their most popular purchases are clothing (69%), beauty and grooming products (33%), food (31%), electronics (22%) and groceries (17%).
Arab youth at a crossroads
Presented under six distinct themes – Identity, Livelihood, Politics, Global Citizenship, Lifestyle and Aspirations – the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey reveals a generation at a crossroads, confronted with preserving their traditional culture and values on the one hand, and embracing modernization and reform on the other.
Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said the research presented further valuable insights into the mindset of young Arab men and women across MENA, and the issues decision makers must address if they are to make the most of their potential.
“At ASDA’A BCW, we believe that to understand the Arab world, we must first understand the hearts and minds of its largest demographic, its youth. This year’s findings show a generation of young Arab men and women seeking to chart a new course from the divisions of the past.”
“Encouragingly, the results of our study in Saudi Arabia suggest that national youth, both men and women, are fully on board with the country’s reform agenda and enthusiastic about their future,” John added.
The full findings of the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey are available at arabyouthsurvey.com