Young Arabs say getting quality mental healthcare is difficult

 

  • Nearly two-in-five (38 per cent) of Arab youth say they know someone suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, up from 31 per cent in 2019
  • Findings from the survey underline the need to strengthen access to quality mental healthcare, coinciding with World Mental Health Day on October 10

With World Mental Health Day being observed on October 10, findings from the 12th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey highlight the concerns of young Arabs on the lack of access to quality mental healthcare in the region, and the need for governments to invest in education and awareness campaigns and make quality mental health care more affordable.

According to this year’s findings, nearly two-in-five (38 per cent) of young Arabs say they know someone mental health issues, compared to 31 per cent of Arab youth surveyed in 2019.

A majority (56 per cent) of Arab youth also say it is difficult to get quality medical care for mental health issues in their country. Young Palestinians (85 per cent), Yemenis (80 per cent), and Syrians (77 per cent) are most likely to say that quality mental health care is difficult to access.  Further, nearly half (48 per cent) of Arab youth say seeking medical care for mental health issues is viewed negatively by most people in their country. With the social stigma associated with seeking mental health care being highest in Morocco (76 per cent), Lebanon (72 per cent) and Libya (70 per cent).

The 2020 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey includes 4,000 interviews with young Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 from 17 Arab states in MENA with a 50:50 male female split, and was completed in two parts: The first Main Survey was conducted between January 19 and March 3, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic fully impacted the region, and the second, COVID-19 Pulse Survey, between August 18 and 26, 2020. The questions on mental health were asked as part of the main survey.

Sunil John, President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “Last year, for the first time our survey shed light on the topic of mental health, an issue that had not been widely discussed in the region. With the World Economic Forum highlighting that the economic cost associated with mental illness is the largest of any health issue and set to reach US$ 6 trillion per year by 2030 globally, timely access to quality mental healthcare is of critical importance. Yet, as our survey shows this year, the region does not appear to have made much progress in addressing this issue.

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. Download for free, the full findings and expert insight and commentary on this year’s ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at arabyouthsurvey.com

 

Arab youth see Saudi Arabia as top regional power, increasing its influence in the Arab world during the past five years

  • Significant majority of Arab youth (78 per cent) see Saudi Arabia as an ally of their country
  • An overwhelming majority (91 per cent) of young Saudis approve of their government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • A majority of young Saudi women say they have more or the same rights as men as well as equal or more access to quality education and jobs
  • Young Saudis are reporting significant changes in their news consumption behaviours and are driving the e-commerce boom in the Kingdom

 

Young Arabs in 17 states across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) view Saudi Arabia as the top rising power in the region, with the Kingdom seen as having increased its influence in the Arab world more than any Arab country in the past five years, according to the findings from the 12th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, released today.

 

More than one-third (39 per cent) of Arab youth see the Kingdom as having increased its regional influence the most, with the UAE ranked second at 34 per cent. A significant majority, 78 per cent, view the Kingdom as an ally of their country, showing a clear upward trend over the last five years (from 70 per cent in 2016).

 

The 2020 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey includes 4,000 interviews with young Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 from 17 Arab states in MENA with a 50:50 male female split, and was completed in two parts: The first Main Survey was conducted between January 19 and March 3, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic fully impacted the region, and the second, COVID-19 Pulse Survey, between August 18 and 26, 2020.

 

Sunil John, President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “The past five years have witnessed remarkable changes in the social, economic and cultural fabric of the Kingdom. The launch of Saudi Vision 2030 in 2016 heralded an era of change with a focus on economic diversification, opening doors to tourism and the roll-out of giga-projects – all designed to transform the economy. Youth clearly view these efforts as having been instrumental in positioning the Kingdom as a rising power, based on the finding that Saudi Arabia has had the most influence on the Arab world during the past five years.”

 

The survey also shows that an overwhelming majority (91 per cent) of young Saudis approve of the government’s response to the pandemic, including 75 per cent who approve strongly. Furthermore, 80 per cent of Saudi youth say their government has responded to COVID-19 better than other governments and only 3 per cent think other governments have outperformed the Saudi response. Young Saudis are also strongly behind the decision to place public health restrictions on the Hajj in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, with 89 per cent supporting the measures.

 

Highlighting the views of young Saudis on gender rights, the survey reveals that 62 per cent of young Saudi women think they have more (12 per cent) or the same rights (50 per cent) as men, and 74 per cent say they have greater (10 per cent) or equal (64 per cent) access to quality education. Similarly, when it comes to professional opportunities, 67 per cent of young Saudi women say they have better (18 per cent) or same (49 per cent) access to jobs as men. Young Saudi women (64 per cent) and men (63 per cent) both agree that a woman can benefit her family the most if she works full-time or part-time rather than staying at home.

 

The survey reveals that young Saudis are changing their news consumption habits and are driving the e-commerce boom in the Kingdom. While in 2016 only 14 per cent of Saudi youth reported getting their news on social media, this year 91 per cent cite social media as a source for news. Meanwhile, news consumption on TV among young Saudis has declined from 79 per cent in 2016 to 50 per cent in 2020.

 

Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of Saudi youth say they shop online, including 39 per cent who do so at least once a month. This marks a massive increase just from two years ago when in 2018 only 58 per cent of the Kingdom’s youth reported shopping online.

 

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. Download for free, the full findings and expert insight and commentary on this year’s ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at arabyouthsurvey.com

UAE seen as ‘Model Nation’ by Arab youth for ninth year in succession

  • UAE selected by youth in 17 Arab states as the best place to live in and for their own country to emulate
  • UAE ranks ahead of the best in the West and East, including US, Canada, UK, Germany and Japan

 

For the ninth consecutive year, the UAE is seen as the ‘Model Nation’ by Arab youth in the 12th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, released today. Voted by young Arabs ahead of other Western and Eastern nations, the finding underlines the UAE’s reputation as one of the world’s top places to live, and a development model for the rest of the Arab world to emulate.

 

When asked which country in the world they would like to live in, nearly half (46 per cent) of all young Arabs select the UAE as their country of choice, followed by the US (33 per cent), Canada (27 per cent), the UK (27 per cent), and Germany (22 per cent).

 

The UAE also rises to the top (52 per cent) when Arab youth across the region are asked which country their nation should emulate. The US ranks second with 30 per cent, followed by Germany (23 per cent), Canada (21 per cent) and Japan (20 per cent).

 

Asked specifically what they associate most with the UAE, young Arabs cited factors including safety and security (44 per cent), wide range of work opportunities (36 per cent), generous salary packages (32 per cent), a growing economy (31 per cent) and a good place to raise a family (25 per cent) as the top five reasons.

 

Underlining the strong reputation of the UAE across the Arab world, a vast majority (89 per cent) of Arab youth see it as an ally of their country, in addition to being regarded as one of the top three rising powers that have most increased their influence in the Arab world, alongside Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.

 

Further, the UAE claimed the top spot for the greatest leadership globally in combating COVID-19, and the nation’s efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic has gained the admiration of young Emiratis, with an overwhelming 98 per cent stating they are ‘more proud’ to be a citizen of the country than before the pandemic. A full 100 per cent of Emirati youth also approve of the way their government is handling the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

The findings of the largest independent study on youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, conducted for ASDA’A BCW by PSB, a global strategic research and analytics consultancy, reveals the opinions of young Arabs on a range of subjects including the anti-government protests that raged through parts of the region during the past year, gender rights, personal identity, employment, personal debt, foreign relations and media consumption.

 

The survey polled 4,000 young Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 from 17 Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa with a 50:50 male female split. The research was conducted in two phases: The Main Survey with 3,400 face-to-face interviews conducted between January 19 and March 3, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the region; and the second, COVID-19 Pulse Survey, covering 600 face-to-face and online interviews, held between August 18 and 26, 2020, in six Arab states.

 

Sunil John, President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “For years, the UAE has served as a beacon of hope in the region. The unique model of the nation, celebrating social, religious and cultural pluralism, continues to gain the admiration of young Arabs, who see the UAE as the top nation in the world, over Western and Eastern counterparts, to live in and emulate. This is a powerful statement on the positivity and progressive outlook of the UAE leadership and people.”

 

John added: “In a defining year that witnessed the UAE marking historic firsts, including the first interplanetary mission from the Arab world to Mars with the successful launch of the Hope Probe, and signing the Peace Accord with Israel, the national pride of young Emiratis is surging, as our survey findings show. This also reflects in other key findings of the survey in which Emirati youth express an almost diametrically opposed view to the majority – especially in relation to their confidence in their government’s ability, desire to emigrate, and their nationality defines their personal identity, rather than religion.”

 

While nearly half of young Arabs across the region say they have considered leaving their country, frustrated with lack of opportunities and corrupt governance in their countries, 97 per cent of young Emiratis say they have never considered leaving their country.

 

Hussein Ibish, a Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, who has written an expert commentary on the finding in the survey’s White Paper, observes: “In recent years, the UAE has been promoting a new Arab model of how government and society should interact with a range of individuals and communities based on pluralism, tolerance and diversity. That model stands in contrast to closed-minded, xenophobic and theocratic tendencies in some other regional states. The survey suggests that the UAE may be winning this argument.”

 

With 65 percent of the Arab population under the age of 30, the survey presents evidence-based insights into the attitudes of the over 200 million Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy creation. Download for free, the full findings and expert insight and commentary on this year’s ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at www.arabyouthsurvey.com

Frustrated with struggling economies and corruption, nearly half of young Arabs have considered leaving their country

  • Desire to emigrate highest in the Levantine states of Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Palestinian Territories, while young nationals of oil-rich Gulf states least likely to want to leave

 

  • Survey findings shed light on the views of Arab youth on anti-government protests, gender rights, personal identity, jobs, foreign relations and the COVID-19 pandemic

 

Nearly half of 200 million young Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have considered leaving their country, frustrated with struggling economies and widespread government corruption, according to the findings of the 12th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, released today. The survey also reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased young Arabs’ desire to emigrate, with one-third of the region’s youth more likely to want to leave their country.

 

Across the region, 42 per cent of young Arabs have considered emigrating to another country. The desire to leave is most prevalent (63 per cent) among youth in the Levantine states of Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Yemen and Palestinian Territories. Meanwhile, young people in the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are least likely (13 per cent) to consider leaving. The primary drivers of potential emigration are economic reasons (24 per cent) and corruption (16 per cent), with educational opportunities, new experiences and safety and security also playing a significant role.

 

The findings of MENA’s largest independent study on youth conducted for ASDA’A BCW by PSB, a global strategic research and analytics consultancy, reveals the opinions of young Arabs on a range of subjects including the anti-government protests that raged through parts of the region during the past year, gender rights, personal identity, employment, personal debt, foreign relations and media consumption.

 

The survey polled 4,000 young Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 from 17 Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa with a 50:50 male female split. The research was conducted in two phases, with the main survey polling between January 19 and March 3, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the region; and the second, COVID-19 Pulse Survey, between August 18 and 26, 2020, conducted in six Arab states.

 

“The findings of our Arab Youth Survey highlight the unique complexities – and opportunities –that must be addressed to meet the aspirations of young people in the Arab world,” said Donna Imperato, Global CEO, BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe). “These insights on the region – one of the most diverse in the world and where the under-30s make up two thirds of the population – form the basis of the communications counsel that we provide to our clients, including governments, civil society organisations and the private sector.”

 

“As an independent study, the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey has consistently delivered evidence-based insights on the hopes and frustrations of young people in the Arab world,” said Sunil John, President, Middle East, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW. “Set against the backdrop of street protests and a sharp oil price decline that have led to acute government budget deficits, the study demonstrates the link between poor governance and lack of opportunities. The findings underpin the need for many parts of the MENA region to focus on and nurture its youth dividend or risk losing a generation of its brightest young people.”

 

Following a wave of anti-government protests across the region over the last 12 months, the survey reveals that almost nine in 10 young Arabs in Algeria, Iraq, Sudan and Lebanon supported the protests in their own countries. A majority of the youth in these four countries are optimistic that the protests would lead to real positive change.

 

Protests resulted in the ousting of Omar Al-Bashir after nearly three decades in power as president in Sudan, and the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika after over two decades as the president of Algeria. Lebanon and Iraq also both saw a change in leadership. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have added to the possibility of more unrest, particularly in Lebanon, where nearly three-quarters of respondents in the COVID-19 Pulse Survey said they believe the pandemic has made protests against the political status quo more likely.
“The link between the protests and corruption can also be inferred from the fact that tackling government corruption is seen as the single largest priority for achieving progress in the Arab world (36 per cent of all respondents), ahead of any other issue, including creating well-paying jobs (32 per cent), and defeating terrorist organisations or resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict,” John added.

 

With job creation identified as the second most important priority for regional progress, almost nine in 10 young people (87 per cent) are concerned about unemployment, but only half (49 per cent) say they have confidence in their governments’ ability to deal with unemployment. The ongoing economic woes appear to be further compounded by the impact of COVID-19, with 20 per cent saying someone in their family has lost their job due to the pandemic, 30 per cent reporting higher household debt, and 72 per cent saying the pandemic has made it more difficult to find a job.

 

In a region with the world’s highest youth unemployment (over 26 per cent according to the International Labour Organisation), a rising number of young Arabs are looking beyond the government or the private sector to provide employment, instead preferring to work for themselves or their families (23 per cent vs. 16 per cent in 2019). Two in five are also considering setting up their own business within the next five years – with youth in the GCC showing the greatest entrepreneurial spirit (55 per cent).

 

The survey also debunks stereotypical notions of the region, particularly on gender rights. A strong majority of young Arab women (75 per cent) say they have the same or more rights as men in their country. Young Arab women (76 per cent) and men (70 per cent) agree that a woman can benefit her family more by working than staying at home.

 

Voicing their view on the changing dynamics of foreign affairs, Arab youth see Saudi Arabia and the UAE as the two rising Arab powers that have most influence on the geo-political environment of the region (39 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively). Among non-Arab states, the United States is seen having increased its influence in the region the most over the past five years. This year, the US is also seen more favourably (56 per cent) by Arab youth than in 2019 (41 per cent) or any point since 2016.

 

For the ninth consecutive year, the UAE continues to prevail as the preferred nation for young Arabs to live in (46 per cent) and for their own nation to emulate (52 per cent). The United States is the next most popular country among Arab youth to live in (33 per cent) and emulate (30 per cent).

 

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • More young Arabs say they are being saddled with personal debt. Nearly one-third of young Arabs (35 per cent) say they are in debt now, a significant increase from earlier years (21 per cent in 2019).
  • Religion is seen as the most important aspect of the personal identity of young Arabs (40 per cent), more so than their family, nationality, gender and other factors.
  • Arab youth are increasingly embracing the digital revolution: In 2015, just 25 per cent young Arabs cited social media as their source of news, this year, 79 per cent say they get their news from social media. Since 2018, e-commerce has also experienced exponential growth among Arab youth and a large majority (80 per cent) now shop online.

 

With two-thirds 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. Download for free, the full findings and a White Paper on this year’s ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at arabyouthsurvey.com