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Arab youth is ‘more optimistic about future than Europeans’

By Camille Dupire - May 16,2018 - Last updated at May 17,2018

AMMAN — Three out of four young Arabs are globally “optimistic” about their future, a percentage higher than some of their European counterparts, 62 per cent of whom voiced their optimism compared to 74 per cent in the Levant.

“This was our first surprise as we started collecting the results of our ongoing ‘Generation What?’ online study, which was launched two months ago with the aim of better understanding the main trends and concerns of Arab citizens by collecting testimonies from youth between the ages of 18 and 34 years old in Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Lebanon through a 167-question survey available online,” said Valerio Caruso, the “Generation What?” project’s team leader.

The EU project aimed at drawing portrait of the new generation through the largest cross-media youth survey ever-made, which has so far gathered over 4,500 respondents around the region. 

“At this stage of the project, we can only speak of ‘trends’ rather than ‘results’, but it is interesting to look at the initial results coming up and compare them with other parts of the world,” Caruso told The Jordan Times.

A special focus was put on the Arab youth’s perception of their future and that of their country, asking them questions such as “Compared to your parents’ lives, how will your future be?” or “How will your children’s future be?”

When asked to compare their future with the lives of their parents, more than half of the young Arab respondents (66 per cent) said that “they feel that their future is going to be generally better” as opposed to 18 per cent who think it will rather be “similar” and 16 per cent who think it will be “generally worse”. 

“Once again, young Arabs seem to be much more enthusiastic than their European peers, as only one third [33 per cent] said they see their future as ‘generally better’ than their parents, which is half of the Arabs’ positive response,” Caruso pointed out, wondering if, contrary to Europeans, young Arabs might not believe that their country’s golden age is over.

The same optimism was recorded in the Arab region when youth projected themselves in the future. To the question “compared to your life, you feel like your children’s future is going to be…”, 66 per cent of Arab respondents said “generally better”, while only 16 per cent answered “generally worse”. 

As for the issues that raise the most worries among respondents, “war” and “terrorism” were cited by Jordanians and Palestinians’ as the top priority, compared to “ecological issues” in Europe.

Despite the overall optimism, very negative views were expressed by Jordanian respondents regarding opportunities and chances of empowerment available for them. “Eighty per cent of young Jordanians said their country does not give them the chance to show what they are really capable of, which is a little lower than Egpyt [90 per cent] but much higher than northern European countries,” Caruso noted.

Further results about the Kingdom and the region can be found at arab.generation-what.org

Financed by the EU, “Generation What?” Arabic is and implemented by the European Broadcasting Union in cooperation with the Arab States Broadcasting Union and the Permanent Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators following a concept developed by YAMI2 and Upian, according to its website.

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