8th Annual
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller
Arab Youth Survey



Leading commentators from the region, the US and Europe offer their perspectives on the key findings of this year’s ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey.

Sunil John

Founder and chief executive of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller

There are 200 million young people in the Middle East and North Africa. Always spirited, often frustrated, they represent either the region’s biggest dividend, or its biggest threat. It is my personal view that they are a dividend; a wellspring of untapped potential to rival any oil or gas field, and a net benefit to the region and the world. The governments of the Middle East and North Africa cannot afford to let them down.

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Hassan Hassan

Resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

Many people in the region may reject Daesh due to its extreme tactics, but the issue remains that the group exploits existing problems. It did not simply invent the problems the responders identified as factors. Daesh, put another way, is a symptom of a growing disease that needs to be tackled, and not just the disease itself.

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Michael Stephens

Research Fellow for Middle East Studies, at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

The Middle East regional order is in a state of deep change, and instability. The retrenchment of US military power, and political attention toward the Middle East has opened up a space for competition between regional powers, hastening the breakdown of state structures in both the Levant and North Africa.

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Faisal Al Yafai

Chief columnist for The National newspaper

When the results of the Survey suggest young Arabs think democracy will not work and the Arab republics should prioritise stability, I don’t read that as the youth turning their backs on democracy, or even the possibility of change. Rather, I see it as a retrenchment, as a belief that the best way to get personal autonomy and economic prosperity is to first seek stability in an ordered political system.

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Clare Woodcraft

CEO of Emirates Foundation

The MENA region still has the lowest level of female labour force participation in the world but there is hope. Research shows that young Arab women can be inspired by just one person – one person who is able to demonstrate that women can break down barriers and taboos.

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Afshin Molavi

Senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Clearly, the UAE has emerged as a lodestar for young Arabs and while the UAE has given them an opportunity, it has also benefited from the combined efforts of the most talented, cosmopolitan, hard-working men and women of their generation.

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Dr. Christian Koch

Director of the Gulf Research Center Foundation in Geneva

Given the current volatility that characterises much of the present-day Middle East, one might see a new bargain struck between the governors and the governed. As the UAE commentator Sultan al-Qassimi recently stated in an article for the Middle East Institute: ‘Taxation in exchange for ensuring the security of citizens in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood might be the new accepted social contract.’

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Damian Radcliffe

The Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication

Many young people are on social networks for several hours a day, and these channels can dominate – and massively influence – their online experience. For some audiences, social media is the primary means by which news and information is both discovered and distributed; a trait which is only going to become more prevalent.

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Watch our panel of experts discuss the key findings 2016 ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey. The wide-ranging conversation takes on hot-button issues facing youth today, including lack for job opportunities and the threats posed by extremism.

Our panelists are:

Khaled Almaeena

Saudi media and politics analyst, and former Editor in Chief of both Arab News and the Saudi Gazette. Highly regarded for his views on the news of the hour, Khaled’s political and social columns appear in publications throughout the region, and the world.

Sarah Al Amiri

Head of the Council of UAE Scientists and Science Lead, Emirates Mars Mission – the Hope Mission. In this role, Sarah leads the team developing the Mission’s scientific objectives, goals and analysis capabilities.

Roy Haddad

WPP director for the Middle East and North Africa. One of the most respected figures in the Middle East’s communications industry, Roy was in charge of advertising giant JWT’s MENA operations before taking charge of the regional operations of parent group WPP in 2012.

Chaker Khazaal

Palestinian-Canadian writer, public speaker and author of the Confessions of a War Child trilogy. In 2015, he was named Man of the Year by Esquire Middle East and In 2016, Arabian Business magazine ranked Chaker first on their global list of the 100 Most Influential Arabs Under the Age of 40.

Alaa Shahine

Our moderater is the Bloomberg News editor for politics and macroeconomics in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Lebanese by birth, he has interviewed some of the region's top decision makers, including Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the prime ministers of Egypt and Lebanon.