An insight into young minds

Arab governments have to consider the needs of its young population to develop

A panel discussion on the Arab Youth Survey at Ritz Carlton hotel at DIFC in Dubai. Ravindranath K / The National
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The success story of this country is a powerful narrative that many in the region believe is a model for other Arab countries to emulate. As The National reports today, a third of young Arabs who participated in the ninth annual Arab Youth Survey – the opinions of 3,500 young Arabs from 16 countries were solicited in the course of the research – would like to live and work in the UAE.

Young people also showed great awareness about the challenges that the region faces. Barely half of those polled (52 per cent) said they felt their countries were moving in the right direction, down 12 per centage points from the previous year. Eighty per cent of respondents wanted their governments to do more to address their needs and focus on finding jobs and improving security. Unemployment, ISIL and the threat of terrorism were seen as the biggest obstacles. Governments around the region must heed the warnings of this data and face up to the threat of extremism with the strongest possible response.

The survey also highlighted dissatisfaction with the education systems. The majority of young non-GCC Arabs viewed schools and universities as incapable of preparing them for jobs of the future. This sends a clear message to policymakers across the region. They must reform. They must seek to provide school leavers and graduates with relevant skills or risk another “lost” generation.

There are, however, some points that need addressing in the GCC. In particular, young people’s declining use of Arabic, with 68 per cent of those in the GCC saying they use English more than their mother tongue. This result is undoubtedly partly attributable to the multilingual nature of countries such as ours. But this is why it is so important that Islamic atudies, moral education and Arabic instruction are given preference in the curriculum to make sure that traditions are not overtaken by multiculturalism.

The survey’s most headline-grabbing result – about where young people would like to live – is also a wake-up call to others. The UAE is safe, prosperous, tolerant and happy. There is no magic formula for success, but those four words are solid building blocks.