A new poll by the Dubai-based Public Relations firm Asda’a-Burson Marsteller shows that Youth in the Arab World are wary of the rise of ISIS and the failure of the “Arab Spring,” but see a future driven by the Gulf State including Saudi Arabia and recognize the continued injustices of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
By Ray Hanania
High financed Israeli propaganda would like you to believe that its brutal and oppressive occupation of Palestine is no longer the most important issue in the Middle East, and that the region is changing so much that they could steal the land without consequences because the Arab World is fickle.
But a new poll conducted by the Dubai-based public relations firm Asda’a-Burson Marsteller (A-BM) shows that although the most imminent fear is the rise of Daesh (ISIS) terrorism, and the staple personal concerns of unemployment and future careers, Israel’s brutality remains right up there in their minds.
That’s bad news for all the hundreds of millions Israel spends to change how the world views its terrorism in Palestine and its hostility towards anyone or any nation that dares to challenge its Apartheid-like stranglehold on the Christians and Muslims who live not only under their occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem, but also inside their military state as so-called “citizens.”
Obviously the polling company is walking on egg shells. Burson Marsteller has managed many clients in the Middle East since 1999 when it merged with Asda’a in Dubai, but it also manages clients with a very strong pro-Israel agenda, including some Israeli clients, I am sure. So the polling doesn’t dig deep enough into the Palestine-Israel conflict which is the engine that drives the region’s future.
I mean, if Christians and Muslims can’t be free in Palestine, how can any Arabs be free anywhere in the Middle East or the world? It’s a nagging reality that requires an answer. Israelis know it and spend hundreds of millions to define the answer to their liking by bombarding the public, including in the Middle East, with propaganda that twists and turns reality and exaggerates Palestinian resistance while diminishing their own military and settler violence.
The polling is fascinating, since in a world dominated by tyrants and threatened by government challenges to free speech, people are willing to still think for themselves. And you can’t trust any Israeli polls because the Israelis are propaganda-driven, even in the majority of their media (not all but most), and that includes the Israeli PR Companies that skewer their results to match the national agenda, which in the past two decades has been far right, extremist and conservative all wrapped up in one ugly bundle of shame.
Most of the young people polled have a growing concern for the idea of the “Arab Spring” and Democracy, but less than half believe Democracy won’t work. Remember, this is a poll conducted in a world driven strongly by religious faith which is challenged by Democracy and the principles of free thinking, free speech and a separation between government and religion. A significant 44 percent believe Democracy will not work. But the belief is driven by where you live. Respondents in the Gulf States seem to believe more strongly that Democracy won’t work, skewering the results against the Arab Spring and Democracy, while those in the Levant are less pessimistic, like in Palestine, Iraq, and Kuwait.
But while 39 percent believe Democracy can’t work, 36 percent believe it can. And, 25 percent just don’t know, according to the survey which offers a depth of insight that should be analyzed and discussed as the focus of a conference of its own.
The issue of Democracy is critical to how Arab youth view the future of their region. Historically, the confidence in the Arab Spring and Democracy has continue to fall, especially recently with the rise of the terrorists Daesh.
According to the poll results: “Confidence among Arab youth that the Arab Spring would bring positive change across the region is declining. In 2015, just 38 per cent agree that the Arab world is better off following the Arab Spring, compared to 54 per cent in 2014, 70 per cent in 2013, and 72 per cent in 2012. Similarly, fewer than half (41 per cent) agree they will be better off in five years following the uprisings, down from 58 per cent in 2014, 74 per cent in 2013, and 71 per cent in 2012.”
Another significant find is the growing movement towards speaking and conversing in English.
According to the poll: “Three in four (73 per cent) agree that the Arabic language is central to their identity with youth in the GCC feeling particularly strong about the issue; 81 per cent of them agree with the statement “Arabic is central to my national identity” compared to 68 per cent in non-GCC countries. On the other hand, almost half of those polled (47 per cent) say that the Arabic language is losing its value while one in three (34 per cent) disagree.”
I have always argued — having lived in the Temple of the World’s Greatest Communications Center, America — that Arabic has held the Arab World back in terms of media and communications and that it has lagged behind specifically because much of the Arab Media and public do not focus on English, the official language of professional communications, Public Relations, marketing and propaganda spin. I;m not saying Arabic is bad or should go away, so chill out fanatics. I’m saying that if we plan to win our justice in this world, from Palestine to the Arab Spring, we need to grasp the fundamental powers of English as the core of strategic communications. We need to speak to the English-speaking world fluently to be effective.
The “pen is mightier than the sword” even today in the world of high-tech weaponry. Communications is the greatest power int he world. If you master communications, you can defeat the greatest enemy, regardless of justice (ask the Israelis) or injustice (the hope for Palestinians and the Arab World).
This feeling may be driven by the English-based technology that has become a major aspect of the lives of young people around the world.
Here are the top 10 findings of the poll:
- With the legacy of the Arab Spring waning, Arab youth are conflicted whether democracy could ever work in the Middle East.
- The rise of ISIS is seen as the biggest obstacle facing the region and fewer than half of Arab youth are confident their national government can deal with it.
- As unemployment remains a major concern in the region, many young Arabs are keen to start their own business.
- Arab youth remain cautiously optimistic about the future despite the number of issues facing the region.
- While youth view the Arabic language as central to their identity, many believe it is losing its value and converse more in English.
- The UAE remains the country that most Arab youth would like to live in and is seen as a model for their country to emulate for the fourth year running.
- Saudi Arabia is seen as the top ally in the region, followed by the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
- The majority of Arab youth, particularly in the OPEC countries, are concerned about the falling energy prices, but most also believe the drop is temporary.
- A brand’s country of origin matters to many young Arabs and four in five do not rule out the possibility of boycotting a brand for political reasons.
- While digital plays an increasingly central role in the daily lives of Arab youth, television is still king.
A-BM offers the poll online, writing in this summation:
Confidence among Arab youth that the Arab Spring would bring positive change across the Arab world is declining and as a result they are uncertain whether democracy could ever work in the Middle East, according to the 7th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, released today.
When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement “democracy will never work in the region”, 39 per cent of Arab youth agree it will never work, 36 percent think it could work while the remaining 25 percent are unsure. Conflicting views are further highlighted when youth are asked to name the biggest obstacles facing the region with just 15 percent citing lack of democracy, down from 38 percent in 2014, 43 percent in 2013 and 41 percent in 2012. In 2011, “living in a democracy” was the most important desire for 92 percent of Arab youth polled.
Similarly, confidence that the Arab Spring would bring positive change is declining. In 2015, just 38 percent agree that the Arab world is better off following the Arab Spring, compared to 54 percent in 2014, 70 percent in 2013, and 72 percent in 2012.
Polling firm PSB conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews in 16 Arab countries with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 from January 20th to February 12th, 2015.
The rise of ISIS is seen as the biggest obstacle facing the region and fewer than half of Arab youth are confident their national government can deal with it. The rise of ISIS is a major concern for Arab youth with nearly three in four (73 percent) concerned with the group’s growing influence and almost two in five (37 percent) citing it as the biggest obstacle facing the Arab world. At the same time, fewer than half (47 percent) are confident their national government can deal with this new threat.
As unemployment remains a major concern in the region, many young Arabs are keen to start their own business. When asked to comment on how concerned they are about unemployment, the majority (81 percent) say they are “concerned” while nearly two in five (39 percent) are looking to start a business within the next five years.
In-depth results are available on arabyouthsurvey.com. The complete poll overview (in PDF) is available by clicking here.
This is the 7th regional poll from A-BM, and it’s important to read it and understand it. And, I said, there should be a conference dedicated just to exploring this poll and what it means and does not mean. It’s that important.