A majority of young Arabs believe their countries have moved in the wrong direction over the past decade, according to an opinion survey, with youth in the Levant most pessimistic about the region. The annual Arab Youth Survey of people aged 18-to-24 across 16 Arab countries found 55 per cent of respondents believed the region had drifted off course following the Arab Spring revolutions and the rise of Daesh.
The negative outlook is most marked in countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, where nearly nine out of 10 young Arabs said they were unhappy with the direction taken by their country.
This perception has deepened sharply over the past two years, which have seen the Levant grapple with a growing refugee crisis caused by the turmoil in Syria and Iraq.
In 2016, when asked the question: “Our best days are…” a majority of youth in the Levant picked the answer “ahead of us”. In the 12 months that followed, this fell to 32 per cent. In the latest survey, nearly three quarters opted for “behind us”.
By comparison, 91 per cent of GCC youth are happy with the progress made by their countries, with the majority expressing optimism for the future.
“We have come a long way from the heady days of Tahrir Square, when a new world seemed to be dawning,” wrote Afshin Molavi, a senior fellow at John Hopkin’s Foreign Policy Institute, in an essay published alongside the report. “The Great Shift that the Arab Uprisings promised has instead led to a Great Drift.”
“Despair among the youth speaks volumes about the future of such an important but volatile region of the Arab world,” said Jordanian journalist Osama Al Sharif. “It explains how the Arab Spring was triggered by disenfranchised youth in its early days before it was hijacked by ideologically motivated opportunists.”