x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Gallup poll to examine region

With dozens of queries, Gallup poll will conjure a detailed picture of life in the UAE

The research firm Gallup is working to create the first complete picture of how residents of the UAE perceive their lives and society. The findings can help guide Government and businesses.

The company will meld economic and workplace polling with data on social attitudes, said Jim Clifton, Gallup's chief executive.

The findings will illuminate respondents' sense of personal safety and access to food and shelter, confidence in the military, judiciary and Government, opinion of infrastructure; perceptions about the availability of good jobs; and contentment with their social contacts, personal health, and community.

The full survey has 100 questions, but some are not asked in some countries for fear of offending local sensibilities. In the GCC, respondents are not asked about religion, leadership or corruption.

Pollsters are selected for their knowledge of local customs, and Gallup adjusts its practices to respect social constraints, such as on men speaking with women. Such care, according to Mr Clifton, can result in reliable data that shows a government what part of society it needs to target for improvements.

Leaders need more indications than just GDP to effectively manage a country, Mr Clifton said.

"There are 100 different levers to pull as policymakers, and these polls tell you which ones are the low-hanging fruit. Most governments lack estimates of people's sense of well-being, which can act as a warning for political unrest."

According to Gallup, people in the UAE feel that they are safe and have access to food and shelter. Gallup reported last week that 55 per cent of UAE respondents said they were "thriving" economically, the highest such response in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Gallup noted that people in Tunisia and Egypt have felt increasingly negative about their lives in recent years, despite economic growth.

In Egypt the proportion of people who said they were thriving economically had fallen by 18 percentage points since 2005. In Tunisia the number had dropped by 10 points since 2008.

"Leaders wonder … when society becomes brittle enough that people go into the streets. But they need maths so [they] can see," Mr Clifton said.