x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Whatever tomorrow holds, there's nothing like a secure future for Arab youths

Arab youths, both in the Arabian Gulf and other countries, are sensible to be more concerned about economic matters than political and societal, Rym Ghazal reports

"Hi. Can you help me find a job?"

That is a question I have been asked by almost every other Arab friend or friend of a friend living in one of the Arab Spring countries, as well as Syrians fleeing their war-ravaged country.

After Arab youths have changed the course of history in their countries during the Arab Spring fever that started more than two years ago, their dreams and ambitions are still stuck in limbo or lost in bureaucracy or corruption.

"It is like we are starting from zero, so it will be a few tough years for everyone," says a good Egyptian friend who lives in Cairo. "We can't lose hope."

She loves Egypt and was one of the youths who participated in the street revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

But since there are barely any jobs and the situation, she feels, remains "unstable" in her home country, she decided to look for jobs in the UAE, Qatar and Jordan.

Just how desperate many Arab youths are to find good jobs with fair pay, to own a home and to live in a settled, stable country such as the UAE has been well captured by the latest Asda'a Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, conducted annually for the past five years.

In it, we see Arab youths who are realistic, wanting a better standard of living, while at the same time becoming more nationalistic, with almost nine out of 10 saying they are more proud to be Arabs today.

What is even more interesting and refreshing to see is that despite all the disappointments and struggles, they remain confident about the future of their own countries and what tomorrow will bring.

"It will get better. We are just uprooting decades of suppression and corruption. I have complete faith that everything will work out in the end," says a Libyan friend who actually moved back to his country after living in the UAE to start a new chapter for himself. The rest of his family decided to remain in the UAE.

In the survey, the UAE for the second year was named the top country Arab youths would like to live in and see their own country model itself on.

I know many young women who feel safe working and living on their own in the UAE, compared to other Arab countries, and so are hoping to land a job here.

Besides jobs, owning a home has become an important, yet very distant dream for many youths, the survey says.

The rising cost of living and instability in their home countries has made it close to impossible for a new generation of Arabs to own a home, something that was almost a given for the older generations.

I don't think I know a single older-generation Arab who didn't own a home, whether it was inherited or bought new. Getting a house was always the top priority.

Today, it seems just getting by is the top priority for many young Arabs.

The worry over the rising costs is a concern evenly split across Arabian Gulf countries and Arab countries outside the GCC.

Some young couples I know have been looking at buying a home in UAE as it is seen as one of the safest investments for their future.

They told me they simply don't know when and how things will settle in their home countries. For GCC nationals, the cost of living is also a major concern.

Whatever the future holds for Arab youths, overall, it seems that they are more concerned about economic issues than political or social ones.

It makes sense: who doesn't want a stable roof over their head and the chance to live a comfortable, basic life?

 

rghazal@thenational.ae