x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Emiratis 'thriving', new Gulf survey says

The overall findings of a survey by Abu Dhabi Gallup Centre are positive, but the results highlight challenging areas for improvement.

ABU DHABI // More Emiratis than citizens of any other high-income country in the Gulf say they are thriving.

Among more than 4,000 UAE nationals surveyed, 63 per cent placed themselves in that category, compared with only 43 per cent in other nations.

"In the UAE, unique variables drive thriving: factors such as learning something new, and spiritual fulfillment," said Dalia Mogahed, director and senior analyst at the Abu Dhabi Gallup Centre, which surveyed 18,000 citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Ninety five per cent of Emirati women aged 15 to 29 have at least a secondary education, the survey found. "There has been a huge surge in educational attainment in the GCC. The younger age group is much more likely to have completed a secondary education," Ms Mogahed said.

The survey's overall findings were positive but it highlighted areas for improvement. Surprisingly few Emirati men pursued higher education, the survey found.

"The trend tends to be that more women are likely to have tertiary education than men," Ms Mogahed said.

Read the Progress and Tradition in the GCC States report here

Religious tolerance was also raised as a potential challenge. In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, citizens said they were unlikely to respect someone of a different faith, and 36 per cent of Emiratis said they would prefer not to have a non-Muslim neighbour.

Researchers pointed to the example of Egypt and Lebanon, where 79 per cent and 88 per cent of citizens respectively said they would respect people of a different faith.

"In Egypt and in Lebanon, religious diversity is something people have been living with for hundreds of years," Ms Mogahed said. "It's not a relatively new phenomenon, as it is in some Gulf countries.

"The other issue to keep in mind is that religious diversity in the Gulf also comes in most cases with cultural diversity, whereas in Lebanon and Egypt neighbours of different faiths are in many cases still similar in their cultural norms and values."

The results of the study were released yesterday in a report titled Progress and Tradition in the GCC States.

Read the Progress and Tradition in the GCC States report here