One in three young Arabs wish to migrate: survey

Region’s youth reveals that nearly one in three of young people across the Arab world would like to migrate permanently. (GETTY IMAGES)

A new survey of the region’s youth reveals that nearly one in three (30 per cent) of young people across the Arab world would like to migrate permanently to another country, if given a chance.

According to the recently released third edition of ‘The Silatech Index: Voices of Young Arabs,’ which includes a Gallup survey of young people in the League of Arab States, “a weighted average of 30 per cent of young people say they would like to migrate permanently to another country if they had the opportunity.”

The survey, which tracked 21 countries in the Arab League, states that countries that stand to lose the largest percentage of young people – if they act on their desires to leave – are in Africa.

Almost 6 in 10 young people in Comoros (58 per cent), and more than 4 in 10 young people in Mauritania (42 per cent), Tunisia (44 per cent) and the Somaliland region (52 per cent) say they would like to permanently resettle in another country if given the chance.

On the other hand, Gulf countries such as UAE (2 per cent), Kuwait (2 per cent), Bahrain (4 per cent), and Saudi Arabia (7 per cent) are typically on the receiving end of emigrants, and are the least likely to lose more than a small percentage of their young citizens to emigration, the survey shows.

Migration estimates in the region show that emigrants tend to move within the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region or to neighbouring regions, with one in 10 young people in the region choosing the UAE as the most desired country for migration.

“Fifteen per cent of those who would like to move permanently name Saudi Arabia as their desired destination, followed by the US (14 per cent), France (11 per cent), the UAE (10 per cent), the UK (6 per cent), and Italy (5 per cent),” the Silatech report said.

A large proportion of youth from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine chose the UAE as their preferred destination for permanent migration. “Young Jordanians who would like to move are most likely to say they would move to the UAE (33 per cent), Saudi Arabia (17 per cent), or the US (14 per cent),” survey shows.

Young Syrians who say they would like to emigrate name a wide range of countries as their preferred destinations, but the UAE is the top choice, cited by 25 per cent, the report said.

For Lebanese youth, the report says that while a third would like to move to a country in Europe, with France as the single most popular choice “20 per cent would move elsewhere in the Middle East, with most potential emigrants mentioning either the UAE or Saudi Arabia as their preferred destination.”

Of potential emigrants aged 15 to 29 in Palestine, “20 per cent would like to move to the UAE and 12 per cent would like to move to the US,” the report says. It adds that an additional “28 per cent would move elsewhere in the Middle East, and 27 per cent would move to a country in Europe.”

Although the report points out that young men and women would like to emigrate to the same regions and countries, 5 per cent more women said they’d want to migrate to the UAE than men. “Young women (13 per cent) are slightly more likely than young men (8 per cent) to want to move to the UAE,” the report said, adding that in terms of women, the UAE is at par with the US as the preferred destination for immigration.

“Young women who say they would like to emigrate were asked about their preferred destination. The top four destination countries for these young Arab women include two Arab countries and two Western nations: Saudi Arabia (14 per cent), the UAE and the US (13 per cent each), and France (12 per cent),” the report says.

The Arab world is unique in having a relatively high proportion of young people expressing the desire to start a business, the report states. While only 4 per cent of young people in North America or Europe say they plan to launch a business in the next year, 15 per cent of young Arabs have this ambition, the report emphasises.

 

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