DUBAI, UAE, Aug. 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Over half of Arab youth in the Levantine and North African countries say they are actively trying to leave or are considering leaving their country for better opportunities. The desire to emigrate is strongest among young men and women in the Levant (53%) followed by North Africa (48%), with the primary goal of finding a job.
On the other hand, just over a quarter (27%) of youth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states say they have considered emigration, with a majority saying they would ‘never leave their country.’
Most Arab youth say they would like to emigrate to Canada (34%), with the United States (30%) coming a close second, followed by Germany and the UK (both on 20%) and France at 17%.
These are some of the key findings under the theme ‘My Aspirations’ in the 15th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, the most comprehensive study of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic, its over 200 million youth, conducted by ASDA’A BCW, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading communications consultancy.
The desire to emigrate corresponds with the bleak economic outlook in many Arab nations. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of young Arabs in the Levant, and about two-thirds (62%) in North African countries surveyed said their national economy is going in the ‘wrong direction’.
In the GCC, however, youth remain extremely optimistic, with nearly nine in 10 (88%) saying their country’s economy is headed in the ‘right direction’.
With youth unemployment in the Middle East exceeding 25% – the highest and fastest-growing in the world, according to the International Labour Organisation – getting a job is understandably a priority for young Arabs. Among those who said they are actively considering emigration, nearly half (49%) said the reason was to ‘look for a job.’
Despite their fears about their national economy, more than two-thirds (69%) of Arab youth believe their best days lie ahead of them, a 5% increase over 2022. Youth in the GCC are the most hopeful (85%), followed by those in North Africa (64%) and the Levant (60%).
Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: "The increasing number of Arab youth seeking greener pastures abroad reveals two of their important characteristics: One, their disappointment in the lack of opportunities at home – for a good education and a successful career, and two, their eagerness to shape their own destiny.
"Youth emigration is a huge drain on the economy of the Arab world, which must be stopped if the region is to benefit from the youth dividend. The region is one of the youngest in the world with over 60% of its population, over 200 million, below the age of 30," added John.
"Despite the bleak economies in North Africa and Levant, what shines through is the youthful exuberance of being optimistic of the future. This is evident in most young Arabs being defiantly hopeful about their chances for a better life. These findings underline that Arab countries must focus on creating the right enabling environment for young people to thrive – the responsibility for this lies with both the government and the private sector."
ASDA’A BCW commissioned SixthFactor Consulting, a leading research company, to conduct face-to-face interviews with 3,600 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 in their home nations from March 27 to April 12, 2023.
The initial findings of the 2023 edition of the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, under the themes My Aspirations, My Global Citizenship, My Politics, My Livelihood and My Identity, are available with expert commentaries at arabyouthsurvey.com. The overarching theme of this year’s study is ‘Living a New Reality’.