Survey shows Arab youth losing faith in democracy

38% think they’re better off after Arab Spring, down from 72% in 2012; 47% confident in their government’s ability to deal with ISIS.

April 22, 2015 03:06
2 minute read.
Palestinian youths with flags

Palestinian members of a youth group wave their national flags and hold posters depicting portraits of Palestinian prisoners during a protest in solidarity with them.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Arab youth support for the Arab Spring is declining in the region, along with the hope for democracy that it entailed, a new survey finds.

The 7th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2015 was conducted by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland and explored the attitudes of Arab youth in 16 Middle East and North African countries.

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The survey took place in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia, and Yemen.

Only 15 percent of Arab youth in 2015 believe the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East is a “lack of democracy,” compared to 41% in 2012, according to results posted on the survey website,

Following the Arab Spring, which broke out in Tunisia in December 2010, many hoped or presumed that the uprisings would lead to a change toward democracy in the region.

And now, just 38% agree that the Arab world is better off following the Arab Spring compared to 72% in 2012.

The survey found that 39% agree with the statement “democracy will never work in the region,” with another 36% saying it would work, and 25% undecided.

An equal number of Arab men and women from the ages of 18-24 were interviewed in 3,500 face-to-face interviews from January 20 to February 12, 2015.

Asked how concerned you are about the rise of Islamic State, an overwhelming number (73%) said they are worried, but only 47% are confident in their own government’s ability to deal with it.

Youth from Algeria (83%) and the Gulf states of UAE (71%), Kuwait (77%), Saudi Arabia (77%), and Qatar (70%) are the most confident in their government’s ability to deal with Islamic State, while Lebanon (21%), Bahrain (26%), Libya (31%), Iraq (24&), and Jordan (20%) are the least confident.

Asked what you believe is the biggest obstacle in the Middle East, 37% said it is the rise of Islamic State, while the Palestinian-Israeli conflict came in fourth at 23%, more than the threat of a nuclear Iran at 8%.

Nearly three in four (73%) agree that the Arabic language is central to their identity, but around half (47%) say it is losing its stature, with 63% saying knowledge of English “can advance one’s career more than knowing Arabic.”

In the Gulf states, the number was even higher at 74%.

Asked in which country you would like to live, UAE (20%) comes in first place, followed by the US (13%), Germany (10%), Canada (10%), and Qatar and Saudi Arabia (8%).

When asked who their country’s best ally is, Arab youth mostly chose Saudi Arabia (30%), followed by the US (23%) and UAE (22%).

While television continues to be the main source of news for 60% of youth, 40% receive their news from online sources, including 25% from social media, according to the survey.

The survey questioned 200 people from each country or area, and the margin of error was +/- 1.65%.

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