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Why are Arab youth considering emigration?

A new report finds the majority of Arab youths want to emigrate due to rising unemployment rates.

Why are Arab youth considering emigration?
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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As inflation, economic instability, and youth unemployment rise, Arab youth seek a brighter future abroad as they seek opportunities in other countries. 

According to ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, over half (53%) of Arab youth in the Levant and 48% in North Africa expressed a strong desire to emigrate to find a job. On the other hand, only 27% of youth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have considered emigration, with the majority saying they would “never leave their country.”

The desire for emigration coincides with the deep-seated economic problems facing many Arab nations. The MENA region has the world’s highest and fastest-growing youth unemployment rate at 25%.

The report found 62% of Arab youth in North Africa and about three-quarters, 72% in the Levant, say their national economy is going in the “wrong direction.” This comes in contrast to the optimistic outlook that many youth in GCC countries hold, with 88% saying their country’s economy is headed in the “right direction.”

The most desired destinations for Arab youth are Canada (34%), with the United States (30%) coming a close second, followed by Germany and the UK (both at 20%) and France at 17%. 

“Youth emigration is a huge drain on the economy of the Arab world, which must be stopped if the region is to benefit from the youth dividend. The region is one of the youngest in the world with over 60% of its population, over 200 million, below the age of 30,” said Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW.

Despite the bleak economic outlook, spirits remain high. Youth optimism in the region is at its peak, with 57% today saying they will have a better life than their parents, compared to 45% in 2019. The positivity is highest among GCC youth (75%), followed by young Arabs in the Levant (52%) and North Africa (50%).

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