Almost half of young Arabs (42%) consider emigrating due to the lack of opportunities in their countries and the covid-19 pandemic has made that step more likely for a third of them, according to the latest Arab Youth Survey that was presented this Tuesday. The public relations consultancy Burson Cohn & Wolfe has reached this conclusion after interviewing 4,000 young people between 18 and 24 years of age from 17 Arab countries. It was the first time since its launch in 2008 that they had been asked about the matter.
87% of those surveyed are concerned about the lack of employment and more than half distrust the ability of their government to solve the problem. The Middle East and North Africa is one of the regions of the world with the youngest population and the highest unemployment rate. 27% of those under 20 years of age are unemployed, twice the global average, according to World Bank data.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is, for the ninth year in a row, the country where the majority of young Arabs would like to live, followed by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. They also consider that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US are the three rising powers in the region, a long way from Iran, a destination that only 14% of those interviewed choose.
Although young people from countries in conflict are the ones who say they are most inclined to emigrate (almost two thirds of those surveyed in Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Iraq or Palestine), they are not driven by both security (12%) and economic reasons (24). %) and corruption (16%). In fact, addressing the latter constitutes a majority priority among all those consulted. 77% of them estimate that it is a problem in their respective governments, but the answers vary greatly from Yemen (88%), Iraq (76%) and Tunisia (66%) to the Arabian peninsula, where the worst stopped, Bahrain, adds up to 8%.
Rise of protests
They also point out that corruption and poor governance are the main reason (40%) of the anti-government demonstrations that several Arab countries experienced last year, even above the lack of jobs (29%) and social justice (27%). ). About 90% of Algerian, Iraqi and Sudanese respondents, and 82% of Lebanese, express their support for these protests and, to a lesser extent, hope that they will lead to positive change for their countries. They do not rule out that the unrest will become public again, although this perception varies between young people in Libya (86%), Yemen (56%) or Egypt (40%) and those in Bahrain (24%) and Oman (19%).
A plurality believes that the pandemic may increase political instability and encourage new popular complaints. But here too there are big differences between young Lebanese, 73% of whom say it is probable, and Emiratis, who see 0% chance. These and the Saudis are the ones who most value their governments’ fight against the coronavirus. Everyone agrees that the covid is making it harder to find work.
“We are seeing a rapid slowdown in economic activity. The recession is also expected to exacerbate the already great humanitarian and refugee challenges facing fragile and conflict-affected countries, ”says Jihad Azour, the regional director of the International Monetary Fund, in an article accompanying the survey.
On a more personal level, 40% consider religion as central to their identity, above family (19%) and nationality (17%). Once again, there are large differences between Algeria (72%) or Sudan (70%) and Yemen (10%) or Emirates (8%). However, a majority consider that religion has an excessive weight in the Middle East (67%) and that religious institutions need reform (66%), values very similar to those obtained in last year’s survey.