x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Results of survey strike familiar chord with three students in UAE

'No surprise' Emirates most popular, and job security is a worry.

Yousif Al Mousawi from Iraq, Emirati Ahmad bin Thani and Qatar’s Nasser Al Baker  discuss the results of the Arab Youth Survey. Antonie Robertson / The National
Yousif Al Mousawi from Iraq, Emirati Ahmad bin Thani and Qatar’s Nasser Al Baker discuss the results of the Arab Youth Survey. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // Young Arabs in the Emirates have echoed the results of a survey on youth sentiment in the region.

Nasser Al Baker, a business student from Qatar living in Dubai, says he is particularly unsurprised that the Asda'a Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey named the UAE the most popular immigration choice for the second successive year.

"I expect it to top the list for a third time next year as well," says Nasser, aged 23.

Yousif Al Mousawi, a 21-year-old international studies student from Iraq, agrees.

"One of the main reasons for the UAE being such a great place to live is the security here," Yousif says. "Being here gives you peace of mind, even if there is war and hardship in your country.

Ahmad bin Thani, 24, an Emirati preparing to take the GMAT exam for his business degree, says: "There are no obstacles here to studying, starting a business, living and enjoying your own lifestyle."

Job security and availability is mentioned in the survey as an important issue for young Arabs across the region, and Yousif admits he feels that tension, particularly as a young graduate.

"The UAE is interested in experienced people," he says.

"Getting a job as a graduate is very difficult. I have friends who graduated last year and are still looking for jobs."

Yousif plans to graduate and leave the UAE in search of experience before returning.

But Ahmad does not agree with that outlook.

"There are big opportunities to continue to work this region," he says. "You already know the culture and how to blend in and interact in a multicultural society. I think people who study here have an edge in getting jobs here."

Ahmad says living costs are not as expensive as people made out.

"I know from personal experience that a family of five can live, be it on the bare necessities, for just Dh3,000 to Dh4,000, and that includes rent," he says.

It is a country fit for those willing to fight, he says.

"This is a place for bright minds," Ahmad says. "Everyone needs to be ready to be challenged. It looks easy to live here and be successful, but you need to be smart and have vision to create your ideal world."

Nasser agrees that opportunities are a main reason the UAE is so attractive to Arabs.

The survey also found housing is a top concern for young Arabs. But all three young men have made their plans.

"Owning a home is a big priority for Arabs; it is a cultural thing here in the GCC specially," says Nasser.

"Before getting married your father might help you to buy a plot so you can one day have your own home."

Ahmad says there is no reason for young Arabs to fear facing housing issues in the UAE.

"If you get a good degree and then work hard, there should be no reason why you can't get a mortgage in five or eight years' time," he says.

They agree with the survey findings on social media, saying it has a huge influence on Arabs their age.

"Social media is my number one source of information," says Ahmad.

He says he does trust the media, but stays away from politics.

"I'm more into the business section of the paper. Politics can be very contradictory."

Nasser and Yousif, on the other hand, are more sceptical about the what they read in the papers and see on TV.

"The mainstream media has become more of a business. They look more at what will sell rather than just giving you the facts," says Yousif.

"I only take about 30 per cent of what I read and hear to be true," agrees Nasser. "My main source of information is the majlis.

"We are used to this kind of social interaction, it's part of our culture. So word of mouth has more value to me since I know the source."