Arab youth yearn for democracy: Survey

March 19, 2011 - 12:15:25 am

DOHA: Most of the Arab youth prefer to live in a democratic country while yearning for greater political participation, according the findings of the 2010 ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey.

The same survey also showed the role of social media in influencing the youth in their crave for change of leadership in their respective countries in the Gulf that the so called “Facebook revolution” has scored a dramatic growth of its usage citing a case in point Egypt which saw an increase of nearly 1.35 million of new Facebook users as of this month.

This finding echoes the results of the 2009 survey — conducted well over a year before the start of recent regional unrest — which similarly identified the yearning for greater political participation as the defining characteristic of Arab youth.

The survey conducted in December 2010 and January 2011 by leading international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) included 2,000 face-to-face interviews with Arab nationals and Arab expatriates between the ages of 18-24 in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. In February and March of this year, in the wake of protests across the region, PSB conducted an additional poll among 500 young people in five countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. These findings reveal that, while the importance of democracy is even more pronounced, it is balanced by a desire for stability.

Support for protests is high among this group, and so is the belief in the positive impact of these movements. However, young people in these countries are markedly less confident that their own countries are moving in the right direction than they were just a few months earlier.

“During this period of seismic change across much of the Arab world, it is more important than ever that we understand the hopes, fears and aspirations of the region’s youth,” said Mark Penn, Worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller.

“As our 2009 survey showed, and as this year’s report further validates, the highest priority for young people in the region remains participation and representation in the political life of their country of residence. Recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere are the manifestation of this fundamental truth: Arab youth have a deep and enduring desire for democracy.”

“In a region where two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30, policymakers, business leaders, marketers and the media need to understand the priorities of our young people,” said Joseph Ghossoub, Chairman and CEO of MENACOM Group, regional parent of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller.

The Peninsula