Every year, ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller conducts the Arab Youth Survey, providing interesting evidence-based insights into the region's youth.

Now, in its 11th edition, the survey is considered to be one of the most important pieces of research in the Middle East. The survey touches on various topics with Arabs under the age of 30, specifically those aged 18 to 24. This demographic makes up 65 percent of the region, making it an attractive age-group in the Middle East.

The survey was handed to respondents from 15 Arab countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen. Qatar and Syria were excluded from the survey. 

Here's an insider look into the minds of Arab youth in 2019: 

1. On religious institutions

The majority of young Arabs who took part in the survey believe religion plays a prominent role in the MENA region. Two-thirds (66 percent) believe religion plays "too big of a role" while 24 percent disagreed and 10 percent couldn't give a clear-cut answer.

The percentage of Arabs who believe religion plays too big a role has increased since 2015. At the time, only 50 percent of those surveyed thought so. 

Also, an overwhelming majority (79 percent) of those surveyed believe religious institutions in the region are in dire need of reform. 

2. On governmental support

Young Arabs are pretty concerned with the various economic and financial factors affecting their lives, including the rising cost of living and unemployment rates.

More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) said high cost of living is the biggest challenge facing the region, followed by unemployment (45 percent). The majority of those surveyed believe governments are falling short of their duties. Two-thirds (66 percent) agreed with the statement: 

"My country is not doing enough to help young families." 

When breaking down that percentage by region, it varies significantly from one area to another.

  • GCC: 39 percent agree with the above statement 
  • North Africa: 74 percent agree
  • Levant: 83 percent agree 

3. On education

Quality of education is a top concern for young Arabs. In fact, 78 percent of those surveyed expressed worry over the quality of education in their home countries. According to the survey, youth in the Levant and North Africa were "most worried" about the quality of education in their home countries while those in the GCC were "least worried."

Still, the overwhelming majority of youth in the GCC (70 percent) said they're worried about the quality of education back home.

4. On influential countries

The survey revealed that the majority of young Arabs believe Saudi Arabia has increased its influence in the past five years when compared to other Arab countries. More than a third of those surveyed (37 percent) chose Saudi Arabia, 27 percent chose UAE, and 11 percent chose Egypt.

Well, does this come off as a surprise? According to this year's global power rankings, published by U.S. News and World Report, Saudi Arabia is one of the most powerful countries in the world. 

5. On regional conflicts

Regional conflicts remain one of the biggest obstacles facing the Arab world. Lack of unity among Arab countries is the third biggest challenge to the Middle East, according to survey respondents.

6. On ideal place of residence

For the eighth year in a row, the UAE has been chosen by young Arabs as the ideal place of residence. In this year's survey, 44 percent said they would like to live in the UAE compared to 20 percent in 2015. 

Earlier this year, the UAE ranked as the happiest Arab country, so it makes sense that almost everyone wants to immigrate there, right?

7. On drug use

"Drugs" was not part of the Arab Youth Survey in previous years, but 2019 saw the addition of the new category. The survey asked respondents whether they believe drugs are easy to obtain in their home country, and more than 57 percent answered "yes." 

However, in terms of availability, only 32 percent in the GCC said drugs are easy to get a hold of compared to 68 percent in North Africa and 70 percent in the Levant.

8. On mental health

Another additional section in 2019 sheds light on mental health issues among Arab youth. The majority, particularly respondents from the Levant, believe access to quality medical care for mental health issues remains limited. 

In the GCC, personal relationships were identified as the main source of stress (28 percent of those surveyed) as opposed to 11 percent in the Levant. The latter region views safety and poor financial situations as the top source of stress.

9. On e-commerce

People in the Arab world are slowly turning to online shopping sites for their purchases. This is especially true for clothing, food, and luxury items, the survey revealed. More than two-thirds (71 percent) said they had shopped online monthly, an 18 percent increase since 2018.

Online payments have also increased and nearly caught up with cash-on-delivery in 2019, with 49 percent saying they prefer online payments over hard currency.

Of those, 60 percent came from the GCC, suggesting those in the Gulf nations are more comfortable with using their credit/debit cards online. In the Levant, 43 percent prefer online payments compared with 35 percent in North Africa. 

10. On social media

It seems social media has become the dominant source of news among Arab youth. In fact, 80 percent of those surveyed ticked "social media" as their preferred media source, compared with 25 percent in 2015. 

In terms of platforms, young Arabs in the GCC use WhatsApp most frequently (96 percent of the time), followed by Facebook (81 percent) and Instagram (79 percent). 

As for those in the Levant, WhatsApp stands at 89 percent followed by Facebook at 88 percent. In North Africa, Facebook dominates (88 percent) and is followed by WhatsApp (70 percent). 

For more details, read the survey here.