IMF economist Jihad Azour says Arab youth need new social contract to fulfil their true potential

Regional director of International Monetary Fund calls for 'pact for a better future' in keynote address launching the 11th annual ASDA'A BCW Arab Youth Survey

IMF economist Jihad Azour says Arab youth need new social contract to fulfil their true potential
  • 11th ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey reveals opinions of 3,300 young Arab nationals aged
    18-24 on political, economic, social and cultural issues 

Dubai, UAE: Governments in the Middle East and North Africa must do more to provide opportunities to the region’s youth, the regional director of the International Monetary Fund, Dr Jihad Azour, said in his keynote speech at the launch of the 11th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey.

In his address directed to the region’s youth, Dr Azour said: “Unlike elsewhere in the world, where economic challenges have often led youth to look inward and lose trust in government, this year’s survey shows that you look to the state to facilitate solutions. You are not disengaging. You want governments that are accountable, efficient, and provide you with opportunities for prosperity.”

He went on: “You embrace technology and you have strong aspirations for better future for the region. Your concerns and demands call for a new social contract that sees the state create an environment that unleashes your potential and allows you to thrive.”

He said that the survey sheds light on growing frustrations among youth, with more than half of all respondents putting the rising costs of living as their top concern, followed by unemployment. “Reforms are underway, but they take time to bear fruit.  Faster progress is needed to create the jobs for the estimated 2.8 million young people joining the workforce each year over the next decade.”

He warned youth to limit their expectations of what governments can do to solve these problems. “Nowhere in the world can governments provide everything to all. But the good news is, there is a different way.”

He said the IMF last year set out the policies that would comprise a ‘pact for a better future’  in a publication last year, called ‘Opportunity for All’.

“This pact could become the base of a new social contract and would ensure greater dialogue and accountability between governments and citizens,” he said.  “The contract would see government enable the private sector to leverage trade and technology to grow and create jobs. Last, but not least, the contract envisages an e-government that leverages technology to deliver public services more broadly and cost effectively. These services include providing adequate and well-designed safety nets to the most vulnerable in hard to reach places, high-quality health services to all, and modern education systems that equip young people with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

Read the full findings and expert insight and commentary, including an exclusive article by Dr Azour, on this year’s ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at 



ASDA’A was founded in 2000 as an independent agency by Sunil John, who continues to lead in the agency’s 20th year. In 2008, WPP acquired a majority stake in the firm. ASDA’A became an integral part of the Burson-Marsteller global network. After the recent merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe, the firm is now ASDA’A BCW. Today, the agency employs over 160 professionals across nine wholly-owned offices and seven affiliates in 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries. The Agency now serves more than 100 retained clients in the region and is the leading PR consultancy in MENA.

The ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey underlines the agency’s ‘power of three’ model, which combines public relations, research and digital capabilities through three specialist brands. ASDA’A BCW works closely with its sister company PSB Middle East, the research firm, which conducted 3,300 face-to-face interviews with young Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 in 15 MENA countries; while Proof, the digital, data and design agency, drives digital and creative aspects of the Survey including the new logo and brand identity, and its digital and social presence.

About the Arab Youth Survey

Now in its 11th year, the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey is one of the most important pieces of research produced in the Middle East and offers unique insight into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s biggest demographic. With 65 per cent of the Arab population under the age of 30, the Survey presents evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy creation. The survey is the largest of its kind of the region’s largest demographic, based on face-to-face interviews with 3,300 Arab men and women aged 18-24, and covers five of the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) the Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestine territories) and Yemen. 

The ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey has won the coveted IN2 SABRE Award for ‘Thought Leadership in PR’ in EMEA for three consecutive years and was awarded the PRWeek Global Award for Middle East Campaign of the Year in 2018.

About PSB

PSB is a full-service custom research and analytics consultancy that connects data-driven insights with human experience to solve clients’ most critical challenges. With a heritage in political polling, PSB brings the agility of campaign strategy to research and consulting across a range of industries, including technology, healthcare, financial services and entertainment. PSB is a member of the BCW Group of companies, which is a part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), the world leader in communications services. For more information, visit 

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© Press Release 2019

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