Youth in the Middle East overwhelmingly view Saudi Arabia as a stronger ally than Iran

Arab Youth Survey’s 2019 findings on Saudi Arabian youth presented at first Saudi Media Forum

Young Arabs believe Saudi Arabia is the Arab state which has increased its influence most in the region in past 5 years

Majority of Saudi youth content with direction their country and economy are headed

RIYADH, December 4, 2019: Young Arabs overwhelmingly view Saudi Arabia as a stronger ally than Iran and believe the Kingdom to be the Arab state that has increased its influence the most in the Middle East in the past five years, according to insights from the 11th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey 2019, presented to the first Saudi Media Forum (SMF) on December 3, 2019 in Riyadh.

The survey is based on 3,300 face-to-face interviews conducted by international research firm PSB during 2019 with young Arab nationals aged 18-24 in 15 states in the Middle East and North Africa, with a 50:50 male female split.

In total, 80 per cent of Arab youth considered Saudi Arabia as an ally to their country while only 32 per cent considered the same of Iran. When asked which Arab state had increased its influence in the Middle East the most in the past five years, 37 per cent Arab youth chose Saudi Arabia as their top choice. The Survey also revealed that almost half of young Saudis (45 per cent) placed the rising influence of Iran among their top three concerns.

The findings, including fresh insights about Saudi youth gleaned from the 2019 Survey data, were presented by Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW and President, Middle East BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) at the Forum.

Away from regional tensions, the Survey reveals young Saudis are concerned most about the rising cost of living, even as they place great faith in the Saudi Government to steer the country and its economy in the right direction.

While 61 per cent of Saudi youth believe the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East is the rising cost of living, 83 per cent Saudi youth believe their government has the right policies to address the issues most important to young people. Further, 93 per cent of Saudi youth are content with the direction their country is headed and 83 per cent think the Saudi Arabian economy is heading in the right direction. This sentiment is further supported by 83 per cent of young Saudis who are assured of the success of the Saudi Vision 2030 for securing the future of their country’s economy.

Saudi youth are also more likely to turn to the internet for their news than their counterparts in other Arab states, with 93 per cent of young Saudis choosing social media and 79 per cent choosing online sources to receive news updates against 80 per cent and 61 per cent for young Arabs as a whole. This is also in stark contrast to 2015, when only 18 per cent Saudi youth chose social media, and 23 per cent chose online sources for their news.

John noted, “The Arab Youth Survey has brought out key insights for the past 11 years and has proven an effective instrument of dialogue among Arab leaders, academics and other policy-makers. With the introduction of the 2019 Saudi Arabian findings at the Saudi Media Forum, we hope to bring about more actionable data and insights on the region and inspire effective and impactful policy decisions both in the public and private sectors.”

The Saudi Media Forum, held under the theme “Media Industry: Opportunities and Challenges”, is an initiative launched by the Saudi Journalists Association, one of the Kingdom’s most important civil society institutions. The Forum aims to bring together intellectual, cultural and media leaders every year to address the challenges and constraints faced by the media industry, while also highlighting the opportunities presented by  the information revolution and rapid digital development.

The Arab Youth Survey was launched in 2008, to provide insights into the hopes and aspirations of the Arab world’s most important demographic – its youth. In its present format, the Survey is the largest and most quoted study on the region’s youth and has driven dialogue at special Survey events around the world during 2019, including at Chatham House in London, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, and two events conducted by leading Washington DC publication The Hill.

In its 11th edition, the Arab Youth Survey reveals the hopes and aspirations of youth aged between 18-24. Titled ‘A Call for Reform’, the Survey was conducted between January 6 and 29, 2019. Findings from this year address topics such as religion, role of government, opinions on the economy and international relations, among others.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.

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 Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW and President, Middle East BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) presenting the Arab Youth Survey 2019 findings at the first Saudi Media Forum

About ASDA’A BCW

ASDA’A was founded in 2000 as an independent agency by Sunil John, who continues to lead in the agency’s 20th year. In 2008, WPP acquired a majority stake in the firm and ASDA’A became an integral part of the Burson-Marsteller global network. After the recent merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), the firm is now ASDA’A BCW. Today, the agency employs over 160 professionals across nine wholly-owned offices and eight affiliates in 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries. The Agency now serves more than 100 retained clients in the region and is the leading PR consultancy in MENA. www.asdaa-bcw.com

About the ARAB YOUTH SURVEY

Now in its 11th year, the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey is one of the most important pieces of research produced in the Middle East and offers unique insight into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s biggest demographic. With 60 per cent of the Arab population under the age of 30, the Survey presents evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy creation. The survey is the largest of its kind of the region’s largest demographic, based on face-to-face interviews with 3,300 Arab men and women aged 18 to 24, and covers five of the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) the Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestine territories) and Yemen.

www.arabyouthsurvey.com

For further information, please contact:
Ibrahim Mutawa

ASDA’A BCW, Riyadh, KSA

T: +966 11400 4087
M: +966 55 9960888

E: Ibrahim.AlMutawa@bcw-global.com

Nine in Ten Young Arabs Concerned About Unemployment, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

Survey’s findings discussed at International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings 2019

DUBAI, October 19, 2019: An overwhelming 89 percent of young Arabs expressed concern about levels of unemployment in their countries, according to a new finding from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey,unveiled at an event organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the IMFand World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, DC today.

The event, “Youth Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa,” was moderated by Brian Cheung, a reporter with Yahoo Finance, and featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey – now in its 11th annual edition – by Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW, which included new data about young Arabs’ concerns over their careers.

Joining John on the panel were Her Excellency Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Jihad Azour, Director, IMF Middle East and Central Asia and SyrineChaalala, co-Founder and Managing Director, nextProtein.

As the largest demographic group of the Middle East and North Africa region, many Arab youth face severe hurdles joining the labour force, with World Bank research indicating 30 percent of 18-24 year olds are out of workin the Middle East and North Africa – the highest unemployment rate in the world. The 11th Arab Youth Survey shows that the rising cost of living and unemployment are the top two concerns among Arab youth butindicates a marked divide in opportunity between young Arabs living in the oil-rich Gulf states and their peers elsewhere, especially when it comes to expectations of their governments to address issues that matter to young people.

For example, while 97 percentof youth in UAE are confident their national government has the capacity to battle rising unemployment, 80 percentof youth in Iraq have no confidence in their governments to dothe same.

Young Arabs in the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states also look to their governments as a source of employment. Seven in 10 (69 percent) of youth in the GCC want to work in the public sector – while those elsewhere are more amenable to private sector jobs, with just four in 10 youth in North Africa (40 percent) and the Levant (39 percent) preferring government jobs.

Founder, ASDA’A BCW Sunil John (foreground)speaking at an event, “Youth Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa,” organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, DC on October 19, 2019. Joining John on the panel were (L-R) moderator Brian Cheung, reporter with Yahoo Finance;Her Excellency Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation; Jihad Azour, Director, IMF Middle East and Central Asia; and Syrine Chaalala, co-Founder and Managing Director, nextProtein. The panel discussed findings from the 11th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey on pressing issues such as employment, education and role of government.

Presenting these findingsto the panel, Sunil John said, “As a developing region with some of the fastest growing economies in the world, Arab youthcannot afford to be left behind. Now, more than ever, the region’s young people require the support of their governments if they are to realise their potential and take up the productive, fulfillingand rewarding careers which are needed to drive the economies of the region to greater heights.”

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are privileged to present our research at the prestigious IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, and to share actionable insights with international governments and other decisionmakers. The Arab Youth Survey is for a platform fordialogue and I hope that the dialogue we spark today can be the basis of policies and actions that can help change the future for Arab youth.”

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank GroupAnnual Meetings bring together financial experts, government representatives, private sector executives, academics and other civil society organisation representatives to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

The Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind into the region’s largest demographic: its youth. Every year,ASDA’A BCW generates evidence-based insights that provide governments, the private sector, media and civil society with critical information and analysis to inform decision-making and policy formation and build greater awareness of Arab youth.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.

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About ASDA’A BCW
ASDA’A was founded in 2000 as an independent agency by Sunil John, who continues to lead in the agency’s 20th year. In 2008, WPP acquired a majority stake in the firm and ASDA’A became an integral part of the Burson-Marsteller global network. After the recent merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe, the firm is now ASDA’A BCW. Today, the agency employs over 160 professionals across nine wholly-owned offices and eight affiliates in 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries. The Agency now serves more than 100 retained clients in the region and is the leading PR consultancy in MENA. www.asdaa-bcw.com

About the ARAB YOUTH SURVEY
Now in its 11th year, the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey is one of the most important pieces of research produced in the Middle East and offers unique insight into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s biggest demographic. With 65 percent of the Arab population under the age of 30, the Survey presents evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy creation. The survey is the largest of its kind of the region’s largest demographic, based on face-to-face interviews with 3,300 Arab men and women aged 18 to 24, and covers five of the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) the Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestine territories) and Yemen.
www.arabyouthsurvey.com

For further information, please contact:
Margaret Flanagan
ASDA’A BCW, Dubai, UAE
Tel +971 4 4507 600
margaret.flanagan@bcw-global.com

Two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

Survey’s findings debated at top international think tank Chatham House

Two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, according to findings from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey which were debated at a special event for academics, journalists, policymakers and diplomats held at the London think tank Chatham House last week.

The event, “2019 Arab Youth Survey: Pragmatism, Frustration and Optimism,”featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey, now in its 11th edition, including new data about young Arabs’ attitudes towards European nations and a panel discussion, chaired by Dr SanamVakil, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House.

With tensions running high in the Middle East after the strikes on Saudi Arabian oil installations on September 14, 2019, an attack which many observers are blaming on Iran the event proved to be an opportune moment to revisit Arab youth’s attitudes to their perceived allies and enemies. The Survey, conducted in January 2019, reveals that 67 per cent of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, with 32 per cent viewing it as an ally.

The data reveals significant differences in perception based on region: in the GCC states, 87 per cent view Iran as an enemy, with just 13 per cent saying ally; while in the Levant, youth are equally split, with 51 per cent saying enemy against 49 per cent saying ally. In North Africa,64 per cent saw Iran as an enemy, with 35 per cent saying ally.

New findings from the Survey reveal that young Arabs are generally favourable towards European nations, with three European nations among the top 10viewed as a strong ally. France is viewed as an ally by 75 per cent of those surveyed, closely followed by Germany with 73 per cent and the UKat 68 per cent. Arab youthattitudes towards the USare much more polarised, with more than half (59 per cent) considering the US to be an enemy of their respective countries.

  • Founder of ASDA’A BCW, Sunil John, presents findings from the 11th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at an event at Chatham House in London on September 23, 2019.

Closer to home, 93 per cent of young Arabs seeing the UAE as their strongest ally, while 80 per cent seeing Saudi Arabia as their biggest ally – showing a high favourability towards the GCC.

Participating in the panel Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW said, “We’re moving from the power hubs of Baghdad and Cairo to those of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.”

In addition to John, the panel, which explored the potential of harnessing the findings of the Arab Youth Survey to steer policy- and decision-making and to shed light on young people’s attitudes towards countries around the world,  comprised  Dr Simon Mabon, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Philosophy and Religion, University of Lancaster; and Sara Masry, an independent consultant. Dr Mabon provided his expert opinions on religion and regional conflicts, while Masry provided strategic insight into Arab societies and the role of social media among Arab youth.

  • (L-R) Founder, ASDA’A BCW Sunil John with Dr. Simon Mabon, Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University; Sara Masry, independent consultant; and Dr. Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House at a panel discussion at Chatham House in London on September 23, 2019. The panel discussed findings from the 11th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey on pressing issues such as religion, international relations, conflicts, and drug use.

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are proud to bring our research on the largest demographic of the Arab world to one of the foremost think-tanks in the world. To bring about any progressive change, a dialogue must happen.This dialogue here today at Chatham House heralds the larger discourse of an evolving global future that has, till now, oftenfailed to hear the voice of Arab youth.”

The Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind into the region’s largest demographic: its youth. Every year, ASDA’A BCW generates evidence-based insights that provide governments, the private sector, media and civil society with critical information and analysis to inform decision-making and policy formation and build greater awareness of Arab youth.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.

-Ends-

About ASDA’A BCW

ASDA’A was founded in 2000 as an independent agency by Sunil John, who continues to lead in the agency’s 20th year. In 2008, WPP acquired a majority stake in the firm and ASDA’A became an integral part of the Burson-Marsteller global network. After the recent merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe, the firm is now ASDA’A BCW. Today, the agency employs over 160 professionals across nine wholly-owned offices and eight affiliates in 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries. The Agency now serves more than 100 retained clients in the region and is the leading PR consultancy in MENA. www.asdaa-bcw.com

About the ARAB YOUTH SURVEY

Now in its 11th year, the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey is one of the most important pieces of research produced in the Middle East and offers unique insight into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s biggest demographic.With 65 per cent of the Arab population under the age of 30, the Survey presents evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy creation.The survey is the largest of its kind of the region’s largest demographic, based on face-to-face interviews with 3,300 Arab men and women aged 18 to 24, and covers five of the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) the Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestine territories) and Yemen.
www.arabyouthsurvey.com

For further information, please contact:
Margaret Flanagan
ASDA’A BCW, Dubai, UAE
Tel +971 4 4507 600
margaret.flanagan@bcw-global.com