Selecting from a list of 20 countries, one in five (20 per cent) say they would like to live in the UAE. For the second year running, the United States is the second most popular (13 per cent) followed by Canada and Germany, both at 10 per cent. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and France are ranked joint fifth at 8 per cent each.
Likewise, when asked to think about which country they would most like their home country to emulate, almost a quarter (22 per cent) consider the UAE as a model nation, followed by the United States (15 per cent) and Germany (11 per cent). Canada and France also feature in the top five at eight per cent, respectively, making the UAE the only Arab country in the top five choices identified by Arab youth.
The , conducted by international polling firm PSB, sampled 3,500 Arab nationals ages 18-24 in 16 countries in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain; Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Yemen. The interviews were conducted from January 20th to February 12th, 2015.
Commenting on the findings, Sunil John, CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “Across the region, the UAE is seen as a place where young Arabs are encouraged to learn, grow, and reach their full potential. Last year, the UAE announced that 2015 is the Year of Innovation, and have implemented a plan to further enhance the country’s ability to create, nourish and cultivate new ideas and leaders across a broad spectrum of sectors, from technology start-ups to the arts and finance. The UAE is a lighthouse and a beacon of hope for the region’s youth who have been living through a period of political turmoil in some parts of the region.”
Arab youth also view the UAE among the region’s top three allies. When asked to think about their country’s biggest ally, one in three (30 per cent) cite Saudi Arabia followed by the United States (23 per cent) and the UAE (22 per cent).
The popularity of the UAE is a reflection of the country’s strong economic outlook and status as a safe haven amid regional turmoil. The UAE economy, which is the second-largest in the Arab world with a GDP of over $402 billion, is expected to grow 3.5 per cent throughout 2015 and 2016 in spite of falling oil prices, according to the International Monetary Fund. While oil continues to play a key economic role, the UAE government has set a target to reduce dependence on oil revenue to less than 10 per cent of GDP, while continuing to invest in key infrastructure projects and social spending packages.
The country has witnessed vibrant activity in a number of sectors, including tourism & hospitality, trade & services, aviation, banking & finance, manufacturing and real estate. The boom is being supported by exponential growth in hotel rooms, growing the number of tourist attractions, shopping malls, and increased connectivity for local and international airlines as the country prepares to host to the Middle East’s first ever Expo in 2020.
The UAE occupies a leading position on key global indicators, including the Global Competitiveness Report (2013-14), which ranked the country first in the world in terms of quality of roads, absence of organised crime and inflation. It figures first in the Arab region and 17th globally in the World Happiness Report of the United Nations, underlining its emphasis on becoming one of the best countries in the world by 2021 based on the UAE Vision 2021.
The Gulf state is ranked the top Arab country in well-being and life satisfaction, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index 2014. Over the past decade, the UAE has also been named among the top countries in human development reports issued by the annual United Nations Development Programme.