Arab youth view ISIL as single biggest challenge facing Middle East, survey finds
Survey of youth all over the Middle East and North Africa reveals more than three-quarters would not support the terror group even if it did not use so much violence, proving they dislike extremism, especially terrorism.
DUBAI // ISIL poses the biggest challenge to the Middle East, according to the results of an annual survey of young people carried out across the region.
Of 3,500 18 to 24 year olds polled for the Arab Youth Survey 2016, 50 per cent said the group’s rise poses the greatest risk to the region, followed by the threat of terrorism (38 per cent), unemployment (36 per cent), and civil unrest (34 per cent).
Overall, more than three quarters of the young people said they would not support the group even if it “did not use so much violence”, with the weakest support for ISIL found in the Levant and Yemen (89 per cent), versus 72 per cent in the GCC.
Seventy six per cent disagreed with the notion that ISIL would ultimately be able to establish an Islamic State in the Arab world.
“The way we read this is a complete rejection of Daesh,” said Sunil John, chief executive of Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, which commissioned the survey, now running for the eighth year.
“Daesh and its power base have been given a lot of attention across the world, and this year we wanted to see what makes them the force they are and how the Arab youth view them,” he said.
Data for the survey was gathered through face-to-face interviews carried out in January and February this year, with an equal weighting among women and men.
Arab youth were also questioned about their views on politics, the economy, social issues, and their media use habits.
Participants were selected from 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, including the six GCC states – the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Also included were Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen. Pollsters did not include Syria because of the continuing civil war in the country.
The survey found that one quarter of youth could not explain or understand why people would choose to join ISIL, with 24 per cent believing that a lack of jobs and opportunities for the young was a primary factor in leading people to join the group.
The findings regarding the views of Arab youth towards ISIL should not come as a surprise, said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, political science professor at UAE University.
“I think Arab youth are moderate in general, they dislike extremism, especially terrorism, and the majority, as we have always known, do not adhere to sectarianism either, so it should not come as a surprise that the majority of youth have confirmed the view that they have never subscribed to Daesh,” he said.
“All the talk about youth in the Arab world being supportive of Daesh, in one way or another, was just another delusion and misconception on the part of those who do not know our youth very closely.”
The survey’s margin of error of the survey is plus or minus 1.65 per cent.
“The aim of this annual survey is to present evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy formation,” said an Asda’a Burson-Marsteller spokesman.
Polling was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, which like Asda’a Burson-Marsteller is owned by UK-based advertising and public relations conglomerate WPP PLC.
Updated: April 12, 2016 04:00 AM