Arab Youth Survey 2018: UAE still seen as best place to live in the Middle East

For the seventh consecutive year, the Emirates has been singled out as the most desirable place to live in the Arab Youth Survey

A picture taken on January 11, 2018 shows the skyline of the Dubai Marina. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE

Young Arabs view the UAE as the best place to live, according to this year's Arab Youth Survey, which questioned 3,500 people across the Middle East.

It is the seventh consecutive year that the UAE has been singled out as the most desirable place to live in the survey, which is now in its 10th year. The United States and Canada were named as the joint second most desirable places to live, followed by Saudi Arabia and Germany.

The UAE also remains the country that young Arabs most want their own country to emulate, followed by the US and Canada again in second place, Japan in third and Germany in fourth place, according to respondents to the survey.

And, as in previous years, safety, security and career opportunities are most widely associated with the Emirates.

"Clearly, they see the UAE as a land of opportunity," said Sunil John, chief executive of the public relations agency ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, who carried out the survey.

“It’s pretty much like the American dream. It is a great credit to the United Arab Emirates and its policies that it has emerged even more strongly as the country that most Arabs want to live in, and want to emulate. That is compared to most modern western societies and countries in the region as well.”

Vijay Gandhi, regional director for EMEA - Products Group at Korn Ferry Hay Group, said the UAE has made great strides in improving its education and healthcare services over the past decade, which has contributed to its status as the most desirable place to live worldwide among young Arabs.

And announcements like the bonus of one month’s salary for government workers sends a signal to the rest of the world that the UAE cares about the well-being of its residents, he added.

“From an engagement perspective, [initiatives like that] ensure that the wider community is engaged. That is a big difference between why we didn’t have the Arab Spring, because of the enablement and engagement of the leaders,” said Mr Gandhi.

The survey identified a number of priorities that are key to moving the region in the right direction, including the top concern – to defeat terrorist organisations, a priority cited by 34 per cent of people, and the creation of new-well paying jobs, which was cited by 30 per cent of respondents.

“When we started this [survey 10 years ago], youth unemployment was 25 per cent. It is still 25 per cent. It hasn’t changed at all,” said Mr John.

“You have five million people coming into the job market every year. What are we doing about it? The stark answer is nothing has happened. So jobs are the priority.”

Modernising the education system was highlighted as a priority for 29 per cent of respondents – a real concern in light of the fact that 50 per cent of kids in the Arab region did not attend school in 2017 because of conflict, according to Mr John.

“It’s going to get even more serious. So I think the answer for all of the ills of the region is education, education, education. Nothing else,” he said.


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