UAE best place to live or emulate, says Arab youth survey

Arab youth are more likely to want to live in the UAE, the fifth Asda'a Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey reports, as Sheikh Mohammed responds to the survey's findings.

From right: Bashar Al Khadi, COO of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, Joseph Ghossoub, chairman and chief executive of the Menacom Group, the regional parent of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, Jeremy Galbraith, CEO Burson-Marsteller, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Sunil John, chief executive of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, unveil the results of the Arab Youth Survey. Antonie Robertson / The National
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // Arab youths are more likely to want to live in the UAE than in any other country, according to the findings of the fifth annual Asda’a Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey.

And for the second year in a row, they say they would most like their own nations to emulate the Emirates.

Researchers interviewed 3,000 nationals, men and women aged 18 to 24, in 15 Arab countries. They included 250 Emiratis in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The results of the survey, conducted between December last year and January, were released today in Dubai.

A record 88 per cent of the Emiratis say they feel the country is heading in the right direction.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, responded on Twitter to the results.

Sheikh Mohammed said he was pleased “the survey also showed that UAE youth, more than others, believe in their country’s ability to compete globally”.

Thirty-one per cent of Arab youths say the UAE is their top choice of countries in which to live, followed by France with 18 per cent and the US with 16 per cent.

“I’m not surprised the UAE has come out on top with Arab youth,” said Sunil John, chief executive of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller.

“The UAE has an image of modernity and stands as a cosmopolitan example, while at the same time showing economic growth and stability in the region.”

The UAE has also been named the favourite model for growth and development, with 20 per cent of the votes, followed by China, the US and France all on 11 per cent.

“It is not about showing off,” wrote Sheikh Mohammed on Twitter. “I truly believe we’re still learning and in the early stages. Our goal is to compete globally in all areas.”

Of the Emirati youth surveyed, 63 per cent believe the UAE can compete on the world stage – significantly higher than the regional average of 54 per cent who say the same about their country.

“The findings of the Arab Youth Survey 2013 echo the success of the UAE in achieving a high standard of development – in keeping with its Vision 2021 to be among the best nations in the world – and its enduring global image as an ideal country in which to live and work,” said Mr John.

According to the findings, the desire to live in the UAE is most pronounced among Saudi Arabian youth, with 36 per cent, followed by 35 per cent of Egyptians.

“The UAE’s emphasis on economic diversification, free-market reform, technological innovation and investment in human capital resonate around the world, and clearly also continue to strike a chord with Arab youth,” said Joseph Ghossoub, chairman and chief executive of the Menacom Group, the regional parent of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller.

Concerns raised by Arab youth this year are mostly in keeping with findings of previous years.

For the second consecutive year, being paid a fair wage is the highest priority for Middle East youth, being cited by 82 per cent of those surveyed.

Unemployment is also a major concern among those surveyed, with 43 per cent having lost their jobs or knowing someone who has.

The resulting need for job security might explain why preference for government employment has risen to 46 per cent on average.

Other concerns include home ownership, with 66 per cent of Arab youth saying owning their own home is very important.

Fifteen per cent believe they will never be able to afford their own home.

Asked to name their influences, parents top the list among 73 per cent of those polled, followed by religion, family and friends.

And seventy-four per cent believe the Arab world’s best days are ahead.

“I’m glad to see that they are so optimistic about the future,” said Mr Ghossoub. “They are the future of the Arab world. If they were not so optimistic then we would have a real crisis on our hands.”

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted that he was “delighted to read” that such a high percentage of youth were optimistic about the future.

“Such optimism will make a better tomorrow for all.”