Wednesday, 24 January 2018 03:41 GMT
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US Prez concerns trump low oil prices

(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Arab youth believe US President Donald Trump's victory will have more of an impact on the Middle East region in the next five years than falling oil prices and Daesh's loss of territory, the ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey has revealed.

This was just one of the findings in the 9th edition of the survey that was unveiled on Wednesday. The team behind the survey conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews in 16 countries in the Middle East.

The survey was themed 'Middle East - a region divided'. Participants, aged 18 to 24, were interviewed about subjects ranging from the political to the personal. Topics explored included the concerns and aspirations of the Arab youth; their views on the economy and the impact of unemployment on their lives; and the election of Donald Trump as President of the US and its implications for the region.

The survey showed that 81 per cent young Arabs said their government could do more to address their problems and issues. However, 86 per cent of Gulf youth said their governments are putting policies in place that will benefit young people - a response shared by just a quarter (24 per cent) of young people in the Levant and Yemen.

"The stark divide between the responses of youth in the GCC nations and those in the Levant and North Africa is clearly related to the huge differences in access to opportunity," said Sunil John, founder and CEO of ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm behind the survey.

"In the nine years we have conducted this important research - the biggest study of its kind - we have always seen geographic differences, but never have they been so pronounced. Optimism should be the default attitude for youth, and the fact that so many young people, in so many nations, today said that their countries' best days are behind them should be a real cause for concern for policy-makers across the region."

Youth optimism drops in non-Gulf states

The Arab Youth Survey has revealed a drop in optimism in the region, with a stark difference in optimism levels in Gulf states and the rest of the Arab world.

Out of the 3,500 youth interviews, 52 per cent of respondents said their country is headed in the right direction - a substantial decrease from just one year ago, when almost two-thirds (64 per cent) said this.

In the GCC member states, an overwhelming majority (85 per cent) of young people said their country has been heading in the right direction over the past five years. However, in the Levant and Yemen, which face mounting social, political and economic challenges, the same number, 85 per cent, said their country is headed in the wrong direction.

Roy Haddad, Director, WPP Mena, said: "The Arab Youth Survey provides a voice to the voiceless, and allows young Arabs to be heard around the world. It allows us to hear what Arab youth said about their past, present and future. As such, it is an invaluable tool for businesses and governments, and civil society in general, who need accurate data and insights about this most important demographic."

The survey also showed that young Arabs feel that unemployment and extremism are the biggest problems holding the Middle East back, with the region increasingly divided by access to opportunity.

Anti-US sentiments are on the rise

A total of 21 per cent of Arab youth in the Middle East region believe that Russia is their country's top ally. Only 17 per cent responded with US as their answer, a decrease from last year's figure of 25 per cent.

The Arab Youth Survey showed that there was an increase in anti-American sentiment among young Arabs, with 49 per cent of respondents saying America is "somewhat of an enemy" or a "strong enemy", as opposed to 46 per cent, who said the US is an ally.

In 2017, a majority of youth in eight Arab nations said the US is their enemy, up from four nations in 2016.

Young Arabs also said US President Donald Trump's election is the development that will have the biggest impact on the Middle East over the next five years, eclipsing the recovery in crude oil prices, Daesh's loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia breaking off diplomatic ties with Iran and the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Two-thirds (64 per cent) said that they are either "concerned", "scared" or "angry" about the Trump presidency, while one in five (19 per cent) said they are "excited", "optimistic" or "hopeful" about the new US president.

70 per cent of young Arabs said President Trump is "anti-Muslim" and 49 per cent said that if the travel ban President Trump has sought were imposed on Muslim-majority countries, it would make it easier for terrorist groups to radicalise and recruit young Muslims.

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