Conducted by SixthFactor Consulting, the survey sheds light on the opinions of Arab youth in the MENA region, with the overall theme being ‘Living a New Reality'
The upcoming findings of the 15th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey will delve into the themes of 'My Identity' and 'My Aspirations'.
The survey reveals that Arab youth place a strong emphasis on religion and family or tribe as defining their personal identity. Out of over 200 million surveyed youth in the Arab world:
- 27% identify religion as a defining aspect of their personal identity.
- 27% also consider their family or tribe crucial to their identity.
- 15% associate their nationality with their identity.
- 11% attribute their identity to their language.
- 8% link their identity to Arabic heritage.
- 7% tie their gender to their identity.
- 4% base their identity on political beliefs.
Religion is the most important aspect of personal identity for 30% of respondents in the Levant region, 27% in North Africa, and 25% in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Family/tribe is considered most important by 37% of North African youth, 21% in the Levant, and 20% in the GCC.
The survey highlights that 76% of Arab youth express concerns about the erosion of traditional values and culture, the highest percentage in five years. Moreover, 65% prioritize preserving their religious and cultural identity over creating a more tolerant, liberal, and globalized society. This sentiment is particularly strong in the Levant (nearly 74%), GCC states (72%), and North Africa (68%).
A notable finding is that while 11% say language is central to their identity, 54% believe the Arabic language is less significant to them than to their parents. This trend spans the GCC (59%), North Africa (51%), and Levant (52%).
Regarding religious influence, 73% of Arab youth disagree that religious values hold back the Arab world, yet 65% feel religion has an excessively prominent role in the Middle East. Fewer youth (58%) advocate for reforming religious institutions compared to previous years (77%).
Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “These findings reveal that Generation Z remains guided by faith, with their affinity toward their religion stronger than ever and many being concerned about what they see as the loss of traditional values and culture. What is evident is that Arab youth increasingly view their personal identity through the lens of religion, family, and nationality.”
In expressing their personal identity, the youth have also elucidated their aspirations through the survey.
A substantial portion of Arab youth, particularly in the Levant and North African countries, are actively considering or attempting to leave their countries for improved prospects. The desire to emigrate is particularly pronounced among youth in the Levant (53%) and North Africa (48%), with the primary aim of securing better job opportunities.
In contrast, a smaller proportion of GCC state youth (27%) have contemplated emigration, with a majority expressing a commitment to remaining in their homeland.
The desire to emigrate appears to align with a grim economic outlook in many Arab nations. A significant percentage of young Arabs in the Levant (72%) and North African countries surveyed (62%) believe their national economies are heading in the wrong direction. Conversely, an overwhelmingly positive outlook prevails among GCC youth, with 88% expressing confidence in their country's economic trajectory.
Given the Middle East's youth unemployment rate surpassing 25%, the highest globally according to the International Labour Organization, securing employment is a primary concern for young Arabs considering emigration. Nearly half (49%) of those actively considering emigration state that job-seeking is their primary motivation. Looking ahead to the next decade, Arab youth prioritize beginning a career (18%), followed by completing their education (17%) and pursuing personal passions (15%).
Despite apprehensions about their national economies, a significant majority (69%) of Arab youth believe their best days lie ahead, reflecting a 5% increase from 2022. Among various regions, GCC youth are the most hopeful (85%), followed by those in North Africa (64%) and the Levant (60%).
Compared to four years ago, optimism among youth in the region is at its peak, with 57% asserting that they will lead better lives than their parents, compared to 45% in 2019. GCC youth exhibit the highest positivity (75%), followed by youth in the Levant (52%) and North Africa (50%).
The survey's results are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,600 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 across 18 Arab states. Various sub-themes including 'Global Citizenship,' 'My Politics,' and 'My Livelihood' have been explored. Further insights into the lifestyle, opinions, and perspectives of Arab youth on topics such as climate change, mental health, and gender will be revealed soon.
All the published findings are available at arabyouthsurvey.com.