Thursday, May 3, 2012

Surprised? The Biggest Obstacle Facing the Middle East is Not Israel

We've heard for years how, "its all Israel's fault". After all, "They wouldn't hate us if we didn't support Israel." We've been told that Israel was the key not only to peace in the region, but peace in the world.
And as many of us realized during the Arab spring, and the disorder that has followed- its simply not true.

From Israel Hayom

"Earning a fair wage and owning a home are now the two highest priorities for young people in the Middle East, displacing "living in a democracy" as the greatest aspiration of regional youth, according to the findings of the latest ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, the largest study of its kind of the region's largest demographic group.

The survey, which polled 2,500 Arabs aged 18 to 24 in 12 Middle Eastern states one year after the start of the Arab Spring, highlighted how larger political concerns have been superseded by more personal, economic anxieties. Being paid a fair wage was not only the highest collective priority among those surveyed – with 82 per cent of all those surveyed citing it as "very important" – but was also the highest individual priority in each of the 12 countries covered.

Asked "What do you believe is the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East?" very few respondents in almost all surveyed countries, apart from Saudi Arabia, said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the biggest obstacle. The number was lowest in Egypt, with only 10% saying the conflict was the region’s biggest obstacle. The number was also low in most of the Gulf emirates. However, in Saudi Arabia 53% said the conflict was a major obstacle in the region.

The poll showed that civil unrest and lack of democracy far outstripped the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a concern in most Arab countries. While not overly optimistic that the Arab Spring would spread to further Arab countries, many respondents said that if it did, it would spread to Jordan.
The survey also found that the number of respondents who felt that living in a democratic country was "very important" to them had declined from 68% in the 2011 survey to 58% this year.

These findings and others were unveiled Wednesday in Dubai at the launch of the 2012 survey. The survey involved face-to-face interviews, conducted by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, with some 2,500 Arabs between the ages of 18 and 24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), as well as in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and, for the first time, Libya and Tunisia. The interviews, which were conducted exclusively with nationals of each of the surveyed countries, took place in December 2011 and January 2012."

The top ten findings:
1. Fair pay and home ownership displace desire for democracy as top priority
Young people in the Middle East say that being paid a fair wage and owning their own home are their two highest priorities – displacing their previous number-one priority, living in a democratic country
2. High cost of living remains the greatest concern among arab youth
One year after the start of the Arab Spring, the rising cost of living is the greatest concern among youth across the Middle East
3. Arab youth say that lack of democracy and civil unrest are the biggest obstacles facing them & the region
4. Regional youth see the arab spring as a positive development and now feel greater optimism about the future.
5. Arab youth feel an increased sense of trust in government but have heightened concerns about corruption
6. The arab spring will not spread further, according to the region's youth
Less than one-quarter of Middle East youth believe that protest movements will spread to new countries; among those who believe that such movements will spread, Jordan, Morocco and Algeria are seen as the most likely sites of protests
7. Traditional values are being increasingly challenged by a modern outlook
A majority of young people in every Middle East state agrees that traditional values are paramount; however, the percentage of youth who say that such values are outdated and need to be replaced continues to increase
8. The UAE is seen as a model nation by middle east youth
9. Arab youth see France most favourably among all foreign countries
10. News consumption skyrockets, TV viewership declines & blogs are booming
After a period of enormous political change, Arab youth are following the news far more keenly than ever before – but less frequently on television and more often on the Internet; they have also developed a passion for the blogosphere

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