Arab Youth Survey

For 14 years between 2008 and 2022, PSB was the lead research agency behind the Arab Youth Survey, one of the most comprehensive pieces of public research in the Middle East. The survey was published annually, becoming an essential comparative tool to help policymakers, opinion leaders and the media understand the region’s most important demographic: its youth.​

Each wave of research included 3,600 face-to-face interviews with youth aged 18-24, with just under 50,000 Arab youth taking part in the Survey across its history. PSB’s research team would conduct interviews in at least three locations in each of the 18 countries, taking into account the cultural, economic and historic differences of the region as a whole.​

The face-to-face methodology created consistency across each year of research, allowing for an easy, replicable, and comparable methodology. Where necessary, the flexibility allowed for deep dives into particular groups – for example the special report published in 2017 on young Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Lebanon and Jordan.​

Using Research to give a Voice to the Region’s Youth​

The survey remains one of the most cited pieces of research, and over the last decade and a half has drawn attention to the complex challenges, but also opportunities, faced by the region’s youth. ​

Some of the many trends highlighted by the survey includes the greater levels of political and social unrest in the run up to the Arab Spring, and the evolving focus on the Gulf as the economic and political role-models for the region’s youth. The research highlighted the issues of unemployment, inadequate education, and corruption that have been challenges for youth, especially in the Levant and North Africa. In contrast, youth in the Gulf have pointed to the success of government and their increased global standing as some of the reasons why they remain optimistic about the future.​

The reasons for optimism have evolved over the years of the survey. For many, education has been at the heart of their future. This is often seen as going abroad for higher quality education, a trend even evident in the better resourced Gulf states. This desire to move abroad – for education, employment, or to be with family – has increased substantially over the course of the survey, with many seeing it as the only way to provide for their family and gain the skills for the jobs of the future.​

A Global Perspective​

The survey’s tracking of key global issues has also highlighted youth’s views on global organizations. Low trust and confidence in global institutions has been paired with a changing global landscape through the rise of China and shifting views of Russia and the United States’ respective roles in the Middle East as a whole. Declining positivity towards the United States didn’t stop it being one of the key locations to immigrate to, alongside countries like Canada, emphasizing that dissatisfaction with a country’s foreign policy doesn’t stop it being a place many would aspire to go and live in.​

However, the big change has been the growing reputation of countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and their respective leaders. This change has seen many young Arabs looking to these countries for regional leadership, as opposed to countries outside the region or international institutions to fill this role.​

Delivering Impact​

The Survey’s role in informing decision making has meant it has become an invaluable tool across the region and globally. By delivering results over the last decade and a half, the survey has become a key tool for those looking for reliable insight to aid their decision making, and understand the impact of those already in place. ​

Check out the full report here.​

See coverage for the study here.​

For more information, please contact Michael Hodgkinson at [email protected]

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