Home Middle East Survey: Majority of GCC Youth Have No Desire to Leave Their Country

Survey: Majority of GCC Youth Have No Desire to Leave Their Country

Conversely, more than 50% of Arab youth in the Levantine and North African nations express a desire to emigrate for improved opportunities.

Survey: Majority of GCC Youth Have No Desire to Leave Their Country

Over half of Arab youth in the Levantine and North African countries express active intent or consideration of leaving their home countries in search of better opportunities, according to the 15th annual Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey. The strongest desire to emigrate is found among young men and women in the Levant (53%) followed by North Africa (48%), with the primary motive being the pursuit of employment.

However, in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, only slightly over a quarter (27%) of youth have considered emigration, and the majority of them express a strong inclination to remain in their home country.

The survey indicates that most Arab youth would prefer to emigrate to Canada (34%), followed closely by the United States (30%), Germany and the UK (both at 20%), and France at 17%.

The desire to emigrate aligns with the less optimistic economic outlook in many Arab nations. A significant proportion of young Arabs in the Levant (72%) and North African countries surveyed (62%) believe that their national economies are heading in the wrong direction. In contrast, youth in the GCC countries remain considerably optimistic, with 88% believing their economies are heading in the right direction.

Given the high levels of youth unemployment in the Middle East, exceeding 25% and considered the highest and fastest-growing in the world, finding employment is a critical priority for young Arabs. Among those who are actively considering emigration, nearly half (49%) cite the reason as “looking for a job.”

The survey also reveals that despite concerns about their national economies, more than two-thirds (69%) of Arab youth believe that their best days lie ahead of them, marking a 5% increase from the previous year. The highest level of optimism is found among GCC youth (85%), followed by North African youth (64%), and Levantine youth (60%).

When asked about their aspirations for the next 10 years, Arab youth primarily expressed the desire to start a career (18%), followed by completing their education (17%).

Sunil John, President, Mena, BCW, and Founder of Asda’a BCW, emphasized the significance of addressing youth emigration as a means of harnessing the potential of the region’s young population. He noted that youth emigration poses a significant economic drain on the Arab world, particularly given that over 60% of the region’s population is below the age of 30.

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