Digital-savvy Arab youth are upending the region’s cash economy

This article was first featured on Checkout’s “Seizing opportunity in MENA and Pakistan” report. You can download the full report from here.

 

Talk about flattening curves: Young people in the Arab world, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s largest demographic of more than 200 million, are transforming the retail landscape by increasingly shopping online and using digital payments, as the findings of our 12th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey reveal.

Just two years ago, in 2018, slightly more than half (53 per cent) of young Arabs said they shopped online. Fast forward to early 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic fully impacted the region, to find that the share of online shoppers among Arab youth across 17 countries included in our survey had jumped to 80 per cent, a remarkable increase in such a short period of time. It is a safe bet to assume that when we survey Arab youth again in 2021, we will see another significant jump in online shopping, accelerated by the impact of COVID-19.

This, in fact, reinforces a dominant pattern we have seen in recent years, with more 18 to 24-year-old digital-savvy young Arabs embracing e-commerce and digital payments in a region that historically been dominated by brick-and-mortar retail and cash payments.

The region’s unique challenges

Unlike in other parts of the world, the e-commerce landscape of the MENA region has witnessed its own unique challenge: even though more young Arabs were increasingly turning digital-first – shopping online than ‘going shopping’ – driven by high levels of internet and smartphone penetration, the region’s digital marketplace had for years remained largely under-developed.

As experts pointed out in our 2018 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey White Paper, compared to 19 online purchases made by an average shopper in the US annually, MENA shoppers typically turned online only two to four times a year, the lower frequency due to three factors: “one, a lack of supply and limited product selection; two, the relatively poor performance of the last mile delivery; and three, the lack of trust and prevalence of cash on delivery”. These concerns are now increasingly being put to rest.

Shift to digital payments  

A game changer in this evolution was the acquisition of Souq.com, one of the region’s first homegrown marketplaces, by Amazon, which not only created an inspirational ‘Unicorn’ from the region but also catapulted international fintech investor interest in MENA. This was reinforced with the launch of Noon, a digital marketplace launched ‘in the region, for the region’, and now, a compelling success story.

With more local and global players bursting into the scene and last mile logistics gaining efficiency, accompanied by significant changes in consumer behaviour driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the region is now poised for the next leap in e-commerce and digital payments.

The growth in e-commerce, especially as the primary mode of shopping among Arab youth, is also reflected in an increasing shift to digital payments. Compared to 53 per cent of online shoppers who said they were using cash on delivery most frequently in 2018, the past two years have seen a reversal, with the majority – 52 per cent – of online shoppers among young Arabs now saying they use digital payments rather than cash on delivery when shopping online.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, where 95 per cent youth say they shop online, the embrace of digital payments is even more pronounced. While 45 per of young GCC online shoppers opted most frequently for cash on delivery in 2018, today, 61 per cent of them now prefer using cards for online purchases, a trend that could possibly upend the region’s dominant cash-driven retail.

In our COVID-19 Pulse Survey, conducted in August 2020 to measure the impact of the pandemic on the region’s youth, 49 per cent of young Arabs said they are now using contactless payments more frequently than they did before COVID-19. This is a clear indication that the recent trend of Arab youth shifting away from cash on delivery towards digital payments is set to accelerate significantly in the years to come.

A turbo-charged digital ecosystem

The pandemic has no doubt turbo-charged the digital ecosystem across the region as more customers, especially youth, turn online for shopping.  The most persuasive change, however, will be the impact of the digital-savvy young Arabs, on new – and old – enterprises.

Pivoting to a digital-first mindset that understands the importance of a seamless online shopping and payment experience will be a strategic imperative to traditional retailers to survive and thrive in the MENA region, especially as innovative start-ups hold the promise to evolve as champion companies. As they say, data and digital is the new oil of the region, and young Arabs are shaping a new narrative, one less banknote as well as brick (and mortar) at a time.

 

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

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.

-Ends-

 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.

-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 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