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Arab Youth Express Strong Entrepreneurial Spirit

Arab Youth Express Strong Entrepreneurial Spirit

by Adam Sitte and Magali Rheault

This is the second article in a two-part series on views of youth in the League of Arab States toward job creation and entrepreneurship in their respective countries and the challenges they currently face to enter the job market.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In its first report on the attitudes of Arab youth, Gallup finds that young people's views of entrepreneurs are complex, but respondents appear to perceive entrepreneurship as a vital component of job creation in the region. Except in Comoros, majorities of youth (those between the ages of 15 and 29) mostly agree that entrepreneurs help create jobs.


At the same time, roughly half of young Arabs in each country surveyed agree that entrepreneurs think only about their own bottom line. For example, 82% of Lebanese, 72% of Kuwaiti, and 72% of Palestinian youth mostly agree that entrepreneurs think only about their own wallets.


But other findings from the Silatech Index: Voices of Young Arabs report reveal that relatively sizable percentages of young people who do not already own businesses tell Gallup they are planning to start their own business in the next 12 months. Roughly 4 in 10 or more youth in Tunisia (38%), Comoros (38%), Iraq (38%), Djibouti (39%), and Sudan (46%) say they are planning to launch their own business. As a point of reference, just 4% of Americans aged 15 to 29 who do not own a business say they are planning to start one in the next year. Such a strong entrepreneurial spirit among young Arabs suggests many are interested in creating their own opportunities, instead of waiting for them.


However, the perceived or actual difficulties of launching a business in some countries likely remain hurdles for many young budding entrepreneurs. Majorities of young people outside the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iraq region say it is not easy to obtain a loan to start a business in their country. Youth in the Maghreb and Levant and Egypt regions are also the least likely to say their governments make paperwork and permits easy enough to get for people who want to start a business. It is important to note that on this issue, sizable percentages of youth say they don't know or refused to answer.


Bottom Line

Rather than being viewed as an economic liability to their societies and their families, Arab youth should be looked upon as potential agents of positive change. The ability to harness the energy, momentum, and talents of this rich youth mosaic will enable Arab countries to overcome the myriad challenges they face. Economies that successfully promote young people's entrepreneurial ambitions could find themselves supporting sustained economic growth for years to come.

The Silatech Index: Voices of Young Arabs report was prepared by Gallup in partnership with Silatech to measure and analyze attitudes of Arab youth with respect to their hopes and desires in life in 20 countries and areas that are members of the League of Arab States.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 293 youth nationals, aged 15 to 29, in Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia (Somaliland autonomous region), Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen from February to April 2009. The margin of error is calculated around a proportion at the 95% confidence level and ranges from 4.4% to 6.6% across the countries polled. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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