Arab Youth Survey 2019: Outdated family models causing most stress

More than a quarter of people said personal relationships were their greatest source of concern

Saliha Afridi, the managing director of The LightHouse Arabia 

Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Section: NA) ID 99833 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20170128_NA_LIGHT_003.JPG

Young Arabs across the GCC are struggling to cope with "outdated" family roles, according to new research.

More than a quarter of GCC citizens, 28 per cent, questioned in the Arab Youth Survey cited close relationships with others as their top source of stress.

Education study and broader family issues followed at 21 per cent and 16 per cent.

Job-related stress came in fourth place at 12 per cent, followed by a financial troubles at 11 per cent and a lack of national safety and security at 10 per cent.

“The model of relationships is quite dated – mum does all the upbringing, father goes out and works,” said Dr Saliha Afridi, a clinical psychologist and the managing director of the Lighthouse Centre for Well-being in Dubai.

“This is the model that the people who are struggling with grew up with. There was no technology around at that time. And now they are living in the new world.”

The result is Gulf citizens are in a period of transition or adjustment as they move away from the traditional ways of doing things, she said.

The model of relationships is quite dated – mum does all the upbringing, father goes out and works

“And any time there is a time of adjustment, there is going to be stress,” she said.

The region’s "nanny culture" also further complicates relationships and family dynamics.

“The nannies themselves are not very educated in child-rearing and they are not disciplinarians. They are not parent educators. They are not instilling values, the family values,” said Dr Afridi.

“They spend a lot of time with children but do not have enough education in child-rearing or experience. That is resulting in the child’s mental health and well-being being compromised, which is then affecting the parent-child relationship as well as their marital relationship.”

The findings were effectively reversed in the Levant, with a lack of national safety and security being the top source of stress at 28 per cent, followed by financial worries at 23 per cent.

Family issues came in third across the Levant at 16 per cent, followed by studies at 13 per cent, personal relationships at 11 per cent and job-related stress at 10 per cent.

In North Africa, the top sources of stress were financial worries and personal relationships, which were each cited by 21 per cent of young people. Studies, family issues and job-related stress came in joint second at 15 per cent, and lack of national safety and security was cited as the top source of stress by 13 per cent of respondents.

Drugs were also cited as a serious concern by many young people across the region, with 59 per cent in North Africa and 70 per cent of those in the Levant saying they are easy to get in their countries.

Drugs were less of a concern in the GCC, although 32 per cent of respondents still said they were easy to obtain.