Arab youth see Saudi Arabia as their countrys biggest ally for the fourth year running
 

Arab youth consider Saudi Arabia as their country’s biggest ally for the fourth year running, highlighting their continued trust in the role the Kingdom today plays in the region’s larger socio-political narrative. This is a key finding of the 7th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which was released today.  

One in three Arab youth (30 per cent) consider the Kingdom their biggest ally, while 23 per cent cite the United States and 22 per cent the UAE. Qatar ranks fourth (16 per cent) followed by France (11 per cent). 

International polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 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. Young Saudis were polled across the country from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. 

Saudi Arabia is viewed as a top ally in 12 countries that were covered by the survey. Within the Kingdom, Saudi youth overwhelmingly view the US (53 per cent) and the UAE (41 per cent) as their country’s biggest allies. 

Commenting on the findings Sunil John, CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “The findings of the Arab Youth Survey 2015 are significant, particularly in the current political context as Saudi Arabia plays a central role in the wider Middle East region. Arab youth see the Kingdom a trusted partner for their country to achieve regional stability and growth.” 

In addition to its prominence as a regional ally, Saudi Arabia’s domestic growth policies are also endorsed by the majority of its youth with 95 per cent saying they think the Kingdom is heading in the “right direction”. When asked to describe how they feel about the future of their country, 88 per cent choose a positive adjective, compared to 63 per cent in the rest of the region. 

Further highlighting their satisfaction with domestic policies, 92 per cent of Saudi youth say they generally feel safe in their country compared to 57 per cent elsewhere in the region. 

Youth in Saudi Arabia cite the rise of ISIS – also known as Daesh, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant – as the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East followed by unemployment (45 per cent) and the rising cost of living (44 per cent).  

Though concerned about these issues, young Saudis express a great deal of confidence in their national government’s ability to tackle these challenges. Four in five (78 per cent) are “confident” the government can deal with unemployment, 77 per cent the growing influence of ISIS, and 75 per cent its ability to deal with the rising cost of living. 

Highlighting the entrepreneurial climate in the Kingdom, many young Saudis are looking to start their own business, with almost half of those polled (46 per cent) say they intend to start a business in the next five years. 

As a major oil exporter, it is no surprise that most Saudi youth express concern about declining oil prices, but they also believe the drop is temporary and that the oil production should continue as is. Over half (54 per cent) are “concerned” about falling energy prices while 49 per cent think the current levels of oil production should continue. 

Almost all young Saudis view Arabic as central to their identity and express considerably less concern about the Arabic language losing its value than youth in most Arab countries. A significant majority, however, agree that knowing English can advance one’s career (91 per cent) and 70 per cent stating they are more likely to use English on a daily basis. 

In other key findings, television plays a more important role among young Saudis than other youth across the region. Three in four (75 per cent) of Saudi youth cite television as their dominant source of news, compared to 60 per cent region-wide. It is also the most trusted source of news for 62 per cent Saudi youth compared to 35 per cent youth across the region. Social media is seen as a source of news by 18 per cent of Saudi youth, but trusted by only 14 per cent. 

In-depth results from the 7th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, including survey highlights and a white paper in Arabic and English, are available on arabyouthsurvey.com