Study: Middle East youth desire democracy

NEW YORK: Almost 75% of Middle East youth say that the recent unrest, such as in Egypt and Libya, will have a positive impact on the lives of the people in their country, according to a new study released by Burson-Marsteller.

NEW YORK: Almost 75% of Middle East youth say that the recent unrest, such as in Egypt and Libya, will have a positive impact on the lives of the people in their country, according to a new study released by Burson-Marsteller.

In Egypt, almost 80% of young people in the Middle East said the nation's unrest will have a positive impact.

The third annual ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey surveyed 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 24 years old who live in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

It was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland in December 2010 and January 2011. PSB also conducted a second poll in February and March following unrest in multiple countries.

Key findings in the study show that 92% of the young people in the Middle East believe that living in a democratic country is their greatest priority in 2011. In 2010, only 65% of young people who participated in the study agreed. Seventy-seven percent of participants cited maintaining a relationship with their families and living without fear of terrorism as main priorities in 2011.

“The desire for democracy resonates in a big way,” said Sunil John, CEO of ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller.

While TV remains the most trustworthy source of news for Middle East youth, social media use among young people in the region jumped in the last year. The study shows the percentage of young people in the Middle East who use the Web mainly for social networking rose 28% in 2010.

“The growth of social media use has been dramatic,” said John.

Of the youth who participated in the study, 80% use the Internet daily in 2010, a noticeable increase compared to the 56% of youth who reported to use the Web daily in 2009.

While the percentage of youth who read news online hasn't changed – it was 26% in 2010, compared to 27% in 2009 – the percentage of young people surveyed who read blogs has increased. At least 18% of Middle East youth read blogs, compared to 5% in 2009.

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