Arab youth survey finds religious faith central to young people’s identity, though most want institutional reforms – News

70% of young people surveyed in the GCC and 60% in North Africa say Islamic Sharia principles should be the foundation of their legal systems

Published: Wed Sep 21, 2022 11:20 AM

Last update: Wed Sep 21, 2022 2:46 PM

Claiming that their faith is the cornerstone of their identity, Arab youth are prioritizing the preservation of religious and cultural traditions over the creation of a more globalized society, according to the latest Arab youth survey.

Nearly two-thirds say their legal structures should be based on Sharia.

At the same time, many young Arab men and women say religion plays too big a role in the region and want religious institutions to reform. In contrast, 73% of Arab youth as a whole (78% in the GCC, 76% in North Africa and 65% in the Levant) say religion plays too big a role in life in the Middle East. More than three-quarters (77%) say the region’s religious institutions need to be reformed.

These diverging results were some of the highlights of ASDA’A BCW’s 14th annual survey of Arab youth, unveiled Wednesday by communications consultancy ASDA’A BCW.

This year’s study finds young Arab men and women at a crossroads. Having lived through the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the rise and fall of Daesh and the Covid-19 pandemic, they want to retain their identity while embracing change.

According to the results, 41% of young Arabs say their religion is most important to their identity, a 7% increase from 2021.

Next come their nationality (18%), their family or tribe (17%) and their cultural heritage (seven percent). Young people in the Levant, however, are less attached to religion than their peers in the GCC and North Africa, with only a quarter saying it was most important to their identity.

The Arabic language is considered the most critical factor by only 5% of the study sample. More than half (55%) also say the Arabic language is less important to young people than their parents, although only 40% of GCC youth share this view.

Almost three-quarters of young Arabs (70%) and a clear majority in the GCC, North Africa and the Levant expressed concern about the loss of traditional values ​​and culture.

Most young people in all three regions agree that preserving the region’s religious and cultural identity is more important than creating a more globalized society (65% say this overall). And 70% of young people in the GCC and 60% of young people in North Africa say the Islamic principles of Shariah should be the basis of their legal systems, although just over four in ten in the Levant are of OK.

Sunil John, President of MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said the research presents valuable insights into the mindset of young Arab men and women in the MENA region and the issues that policy makers must resolve if they are to make the most of their potential.

“The 2022 survey, regarding personal identity, raises as many questions as it answers. Some vast regional divisions and contradictions can only be explained by the differing economies, lifestyles and cultures across the region. “

“As unemployment rages in some countries, reform has been the buzzword in 2022, and the influence of foreign cultures in the region is growing rapidly,” John added. “It has an impact on the mindset of young Arabs today.”


The annual survey was conducted among young Arabs in 50 cities across 17 MENA states from May 13 to June 16 this year, using face-to-face interviews conducted by professional surveyors.

The interviews were conducted in Arabic and English with young Arab men and women, exclusively young nationals from each state. The sample distribution was 50/50 men/women.

Presented under six distinct themes – Identity, Livelihoods, Politics, Global Citizenship, Lifestyle and Aspirations – the results reveal a generation at a crossroads, facing the dilemma of preserving their culture and traditional values ​​on the one hand and to embrace modernization and reform on the other. other.

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