Arab youth eye the future with dwindling optimism

Cover source: Pexels

Cover source: Pexels

In the mid of changing dynamics and growing geopolitical conflicts in the Arab world, youth in the region seem to be gradually losing hope in a better future.

The Arab Youth Survey 2017, released by ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller earlier this month, outlined this reality in numbers, building upon data derived from over 3,500 face-to-face interviews with Arab youth aged 18 to 24.

According to the survey, a whopping 39 percent of surveyed youth believe their best days to be behind them and not ahead of them, compared to just 24 percent in 2016.

But this 15-point increase is far from being equally distributed across the region, as youth in the economically developed GCC countries proved to be far more optimistic than average, with 78 percent saying their best days are ahead of them, as opposed to only 32 percent in the Levant and Yemen.

When asked whether they think things are going in the right direction in their country judging by the last five years, 45 percent of participants believed their country to be heading in the wrong direction, compared to 31 percent last year.

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However, the previously outlined split between GCC and Levant is even more striking here, with this percentage dropping to just 13 percent among GCC youth while soaring to a blistering 85 percent in the tumultuous Levant and Yemen.

The schism is also mirrored in Arab youth’s views on the economic future of their respective countries.

“Youth in the more economically stable and prosperous nations of the GCC are, again, hugely optimistic on their country’s economic outlook, with 82 percent believing their country is headed in the right direction economically,” the survey report reads. “In contrast, in the Levant and Yemen, more than three quarters (78 percent) of young Arabs believe their economies are going in the wrong direction.”

Overall, the optimism decline in the Arab region is in itself an alarming phenomenon, yet it is the inter-regional geographical gap between youth in wealthy GCC countries and those residing in unstable areas such as Yemen and the Levant that is more striking than ever.