Arab youth have named the United Arab Emirates as the country in the world they would most like to live in and the one they would most like their own nation to emulate – for the tenth straight year.
This was one of the main findings of the 13th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey released on Tuesday.
The UAE has topped the list of most preferred countries every year since young Arab men and women across the Middle East & Africa (MENA) were first asked the question in 2012.
This year’s study, conducted by global research and analytics company PSB Insights, polled 3,400 young Arabs, 18 to 24-year-olds, in 50 cities and territories in 17 Arab states from June 6 to 30, 2021, with the cohort being equally split between men and women.
Nearly half of young Arabs (47 percent) selected the UAE as their favorite place to live, more than double the number of votes the poll’s second-ranked country, the US, received. Almost the same proportion (46 percent) said the UAE was the country they most wanted their own to be like, followed by the US (28 percent), Canada and Germany (each chosen by 12 percent of interviewees) and France (11 percent).
The UAE’s growing economy and the wide range of opportunities it offers were cited by nearly a third (28 percent) of the Arab youth, with the country’s clean environment, safety and security, and generous salary packages also ranked highly among the characteristics they most associate with the country.
“These findings will be particularly gratifying as the UAE celebrates its half-centennial this year and looks forward to the next 50 years of its prosperity and success,” said Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW.
“With the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic now receding thanks to the leadership’s proactive efforts, and Expo 2020 Dubai underway amidst huge fanfare, a spirit of positivity and optimism is clearly detectable in this year’s findings, while the trust of Emirati youth in their nation’s economic vision remains universally high.”
Despite the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread economic turbulence, and ongoing military conflicts in parts of the region, Arab youth in MENA overall were surprisingly hopeful and optimistic about the future, according to the survey with nearly two-thirds (60 percent) saying their best days lay ahead of them.
In the UAE, 90 percent percent of Emirati youth said their “best days lie ahead,”
while nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of Emirati youth said they expected to have a better life than their parents, a staggering 99 per cent said their country’s economy was heading in the right direction, up from 97 percent last year. Moreover, all the young Emirati men and women polled this year said their voice mattered to the country’s leadership, another inspiring finding to mark the nation’s Jubilee year.
“National pride is clearly a theme of our findings in the UAE, with 41 percent of Emirati respondents saying their nationality is central to their identity, more than double the regional average,” added John. “This shows just how powerfully the message of national unity conveyed by the UAE’s leadership has resonated with its young citizens.”
“They also acknowledge the UAE’s efforts to promote gender equality, with more than eight in 10 saying that men and women have the same rights and equal access to employment; again, this is far above the regional average,” explained John.
Despite the positivity of UAE youth overall, nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) young Emirati men and women say they remain “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the COVID-19 pandemic, while 82 percent are worried about rising living costs. The quality of education available to them was their third-ranked concern, cited by more than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents.
While unemployment was a major challenge highlighted by this year’s cohort in MENA overall, only six percent of Emiratis said either they or a family member had lost their job due to the pandemic.