Winning streak continues as Arab youth choose UAE as top country to live in and to emulate for 8th year running

11th ASDA'A BCW Arab Youth Survey reveals young Arabs associate the Emirates with job opportunities, security & stability and generous salaries

Sunil John, President – middle east, asda’a bcw

Sunil John, President – middle east, asda’a bcw

  • Nine in ten also regard the UAE as their own country’s strongest ally, and say UAE is second only to Saudi Arabia among Arab nations in increasing its influence in the region over past five years 

Dubai: For the eighth consecutive year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seen by young Arabs as a model nation and the number one country to live in, according to the findings from the 11th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, released today.

The survey is based on 3,300 face-to-face interviews conducted by international research firm PSB between January 6 and January 29, 2019 with young Arab nationals aged 18-24 in 15 states in the Middle East and North Africa, with a 50:50 male female split.

More than two in five (44 per cent) young Arabs say the UAE is the country they would want to live in, followed by Canada (22 per cent), United States (21 per cent), Turkey (17 per cent) and the United Kingdom (15 per cent). The preference of young Arabs for the UAE continues an eight-year trend that has seen the country cement its lead, particularly since 2015 when 20 per cent selected the UAE as their preferred country in which to live, a figure that has now more than doubled in 2019.

Young Arabs also see the UAE as a model nation, with 42 per cent stating they would like their country to emulate it, far surpassing any other Arab or Western country. The US and Japan tied in second position at 20 per cent each, followed by Turkey (19 per cent) and Canada (18 per cent) rounding out the top five.

Arab youth also view the UAE as a strong ally, with 93 per cent saying the UAE is an ally of their country, surpassing other Arab (Egypt 84 per cent ally; Saudi Arabia 80 per cent) and non-Arab (Turkey 68 per cent, Russia 64 per cent, and US 41 per cent) states.

“The UAE’s growing reputation among Arab youth as the best country to live in and for their nations to emulate highlights the forward-looking development strategy and future-focused vision of the UAE leadership,” said Sunil John, President, ASDA’A BCW. “In the past eight years of the survey, the positive perception of the Emirates has only gained in strength year-on-year, underlining the UAE as a true beacon of hope and a model nation for young people across the region.

“From investments in world-class infrastructure to the focus of the leadership to build smart, sustainable cities and leverage the advantages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the UAE’s predominant narrative appeals to young people for the job opportunities and the quality of life the nation assures,” John added.

Young Arabs are drawn to the UAE by its wide range of work opportunities (cited by 38 per cent) followed by its safe and secure environment (36 per cent) and generous salary packages (30 per cent). The UAE’s appeal is also led by young Arabs seeing it as a good place to raise a family (22 per cent), the nation’s high-quality education system (20 per cent) and welcoming and friendly expats (20 per cent).

The reasons for the UAE’s popularity go beyond stability and well-paid job opportunities, John said: “I think the fact that over the past eight years the UAE has become an uncontested leader in the eyes of Arab youth  really stems from the country’s success in achieving a vision, articulated by the leadership many years ago, of becoming a model country, not just in the Middle East, but globally.”

In a year that the UAE has declared as the Year of Tolerance, the first quarter has already witnessed the visit of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi in February – the first ever by a Pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula – which was followed, just a month later, by the Special Olympics World Games, also in Abu Dhabi. Next year will see another major global event, with Dubai Expo 2020 expecting to record 25 million visits, with 70 per cent of visitors to come from outside the UAE.

“It is not just that the UAE is increasingly embracing tolerance,” said John, “it’s that in doing so, the Emirates is going against the current sweeping across the region – and much of the world, for that matter – where we see nationalism on the rise. Here, we see a push towards openness, tolerance, and co-existence.”

Read the full findings and expert insight and commentary 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 Palestine) 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, the world leader in communications services. 

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