Arab youth survey: U.S. fades, Turkey and China ascend

Riyadh (Caasimada Online) – According to new findings, Turkey and China are increasingly perceived as prominent allies in the Middle East.

The 15th edition of the Arab Youth Survey revealed that 82% of Arab youth aged 18-24 view Turkey as either “a strong ally or somewhat of an ally.”

China closely follows at 80%. These findings underscore a shifting geopolitical landscape wherein a multipolar world starts to assert itself.

Historically, the United States was a significant player in the region and was ranked seventh, trailing behind Germany, France, and India. 72% of Arab youth identified the U.S. as a powerful ally.

Faisal al-Yafai, an analyst for the Arab Youth Survey, commented, “The U.S., the U.K., and France are trending downwards, in terms of how they are being perceived in the region, whereas Turkey and China are increasingly trending upwards.”

Yafai added that this change indicates the rising influence of “a new, global multipolarity.”

Internal Alliances: Qatar Stands Out 

Regarding internal Arab alliances, Qatar stands out, with 90% of Arab youth seeing it as a significant ally.

This ranking possibly reflects the positive impact of Qatar hosting the Fifa World Cup 2022, which the report’s authors claim bolstered the country’s reputation and amplified Arab pride.

Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia also ranked high, with 89%, 88%, and 86%, respectively.

While the U.S. still wields considerable power in the Middle East— a third of the respondents saw it as the most influential— the same research indicates a disconnect.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed hoped for decreased U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern affairs. This sentiment strengthens despite the US-brokered Abraham Accords of 2020.

A striking 87% perceive Israel as an adversary, although the nuances of this relationship are multifaceted.

Some research points to more favorable views of Israel, particularly among Emirati and Egyptian youth. Yet, data from the Washington Institute offers a mixed picture, suggesting a decline in support for the Abraham Accords.

Economic concerns and migration ambitions 

Economic challenges are at the forefront of young Arabs’ concerns. Over two-thirds believe their national economies are headed in the wrong direction.

James Dorsey, an analyst for the report, stated that while trust in government policies remained high in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, it saw a decline elsewhere in the Arab world.

He emphasized the need for governments to address these concerns to avoid potential political disruptions.

Youth in North Africa and the Levant are particularly disenchanted, with over half considering leaving their countries for improved prospects.

Primary reasons include job scarcity, economic downturns, and conflict. Even in affluent Gulf nations, many youths contemplate relocating, primarily eyeing countries like Canada, the U.S., the UK, Germany, and France.

Asda’a BCW, a UAE-based global communications agency, conducted the Arab Youth Survey. The research encompassed 3,600 face-to-face interviews across 53 cities.

Notably, Asda’a Bcw also functions as a public relations entity, aiming to shape and promote regional governmental and business narratives.

In summation, the shifting perceptions of young Arabs reveal a dynamic geopolitical play, emphasizing new allies, internal alliances, and a generation’s economic aspirations and frustrations.