ABU DHABI, 22 September – The UAE has held on to the top spot as the country young Arabs would choose to make their home for the 11th year.
The Arab Youth Survey found that people aged 18 to 24 would also like their own nations to follow the path of the UAE.
The findings were the result of face-to-face interviews with 3,400 Arabs in 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The annual survey is produced by Dubai-based public relations agency Asda’a BCW.
It found that 57 per cent chose the UAE when asked where they would most like to live.
This was followed by 24 per cent picking the US and 20 per cent choosing Canada. France and Germany at 15 per cent were tied in fourth place.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the UAE’s top ranking.
He highlighted that more than half of people polled in the region said their country’s economy was not going in the right direction, and that 45 per cent were trying to, or seriously considering, emigrating.
“The economy comes above everything else,” he said on Twitter.
The research highlighted a growing economy, safety, large salary packages, range of opportunities and an effective leadership as reasons that kept the UAE at the top spot.
Measures taken by the government to balance the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, from transformative visa changes and policies to encourage investment, showed the Emirates was acting on issues important to young people.
Sunil John, president of BCW’s Middle East division, described the UAE as “a beacon of hope and opportunity for young Arab men and women”.
“What is perhaps most telling is the fact that the UAE scores highly on all the issues that Arab youth said were most important to them in our research, such as job opportunities, education quality and the preservation of the region’s cultural traditions and values,” he said.
The UAE’s popularity is evident across the region. About 33 per cent people selected it as their country of choice to live in 2012 when the question was introduced in the survey. The country has climbed from being a favourite of 47 per cent respondents last year to nearly two-thirds or 57 per cent this year.
The Emirates was top choice for youth in the Levant, where 51 per cent chose it.
It was the preferred country for 63 per cent of Gulf nationals and 51 per cent of North African youth.
Other reasons why the UAE stood out included respect for cultural traditions, its reputation as a good place to raise a family, high quality education system, the welcome given to foreigners and the ease of starting a business and securing a residence visa.
Figures from the IMF show that the Middle East and North Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates, where young people face challenges of jobs and inflation.
The findings described the UAE as fortunate compared to fellow Arabs, with 45 per cent of Emirati youth saying rising living costs were the biggest obstacle, followed by 27 per cent who said unemployment was the greatest challenge.
However, nearly half of the UAE citizens, or 48 per cent, said it was easy to find a job.
The survey reflected an optimistic mood among Arab youth, with more than half believing they would have a better life than their parents.
Among Emirati youth, 91 per cent said their best days were ahead of them and everyone backed the country’s economic path.
The research showed Emirati youth embraced the country’s drive for growth.
About 94 per cent Emiratis backed the recent introduction of longer term residence visas, as high as 84 per cent supported residents being permitted to fully own onshore companies and more than half, or 54 per cent, said they accept the right of unmarried couples to live together. — The National News