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Nearly half of young Arabs have considered emigration, survey finds

More than 40 per cent of the region’s 200 million Arab youths are either actively considering or have considered emigrating to another country

More than 40 per cent of the region's 200 million Arab youths are either actively considering or have considered emigrating to another country, this year's Arab Youth Survey has found.

The survey, which is commissioned by Dubai communications agency Asda'a Burson Cohn & Wolfe, found that 47 per cent of young people in North Africa had considered emigration, with that figure rising to 63 per cent among youths living in the Levant, of which half said they wanted to leave permanently.

The highest recorded desire to emigrate was in Lebanon, where 77 per cent of respondents said they had considered leaving the crisis-stricken state, followed by Libya, Yemen and Iraq, each of which recorded between 65 and 69 per cent of youths wanting to leave.

Meanwhile, the survey, which is in its 12th year, reveals that the global coronavirus pandemic has increased young Arabs' desire to emigrate, with one-third of respondents saying the virus had made them more likely to want to live abroad.

The primary drivers behind young Arabs' desire to emigrate, the survey said, were economic reasons and perceived government corruption, with educational opportunities, safety, security and new experiences also acting as important factors.

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands out as an exception, however, with 97 per cent of nationals who responded to the survey saying they had not or would not consider emigration.

Meanwhile, more than 45 per cent listed the UAE as their destination of choice, for the ninth year running, ahead of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The survey, which polled 4,000 respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 from 17 Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa with a 50:50 gender split, also measured opinions of a variety of other subjects.

These included surveying the perception of anti-government protests which have swept across the region in the last 12 months, as well as opinions on gender rights, personal identity, foreign relations and media consumption.

The survey was conducted in two phases, initially polling 3,400 young Arabs between January and March, before continuing the research by surveying a further 600 respondents in August with questions related to the effect of coronavirus on their lives.

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