Nine in Ten Young Arabs Concerned About Unemployment, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

An overwhelming 89 percent of young Arabs expressed concern about levels of unemployment in their countries, according to a new finding from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, unveiled at an event organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, DC today.

The event, “Youth Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa,” was moderated by Brian Cheung, a reporter with Yahoo Finance, and featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey – now in its 11th annual edition – by Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW, which included new data about young Arabs’ concerns over their careers.

Joining John on the panel were Her Excellency Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Jihad Azour, Director, IMF Middle East and Central Asia and Syrine Chaalala, co-Founder and Managing Director, nextProtein.

As the largest demographic group of the Middle East and North Africa region, many Arab youth face severe hurdles joining the labour force, with World Bank research[1] indicating 30 percent of 18-24 year olds are out of work in the Middle East and North Africa – the highest unemployment rate in the world. The 11th Arab Youth Survey shows that the rising cost of living and unemployment are the top two concerns among Arab youth but indicates a marked divide in opportunity between young Arabs living in the oil-rich Gulf states and their peers elsewhere, especially when it comes to expectations of their governments to address issues that matter to young people.

For example, while 97 percent of youth in UAE are confident their national government has the capacity to battle rising unemployment, 80 percent of youth in Iraq have no confidence in their governments to do the same.

Young Arabs in the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states also look to their governments as a source of employment. Seven in 10 (69 percent) of youth in the GCC want to work in the public sector – while those elsewhere are more amenable to private sector jobs, with just four in 10 youth in North Africa (40 percent) and the Levant (39 percent) preferring government jobs.

Presenting these findings to the panel, Sunil John said, “As a developing region with some of the fastest growing economies in the world, Arab youth cannot afford to be left behind. Now, more than ever, the region’s young people require the support of their governments if they are to realise their potential and take up the productive, fulfilling and rewarding careers which are needed to drive the economies of the region to greater heights.”

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are privileged to present our research at the prestigious IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, and to share actionable insights with international governments and other decision makers. The Arab Youth Survey is for a platform for dialogue and I hope that the dialogue we spark today can be the basis of policies and actions that can help change the future for Arab youth.”

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings bring together financial experts, government representatives, private sector executives, academics and other civil society organisation representatives to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

The Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind into the region’s largest demographic: its youth. Every year, ASDA’A BCW generates evidence-based insights that provide governments, the private sector, media and civil society with critical information and analysis to inform decision-making and policy formation and build greater awareness of Arab youth.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.



[1] International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database, “Unemployment, youth total (% of total labour force ages 15-24) (modelled ILO estimate)”. Data retrieved in September 2019 by The World Bank

ASDA’A BCW makes strategic hires for subsidiary companies Proof Communications and PSB

Leading Middle East PR agency ASDA’A BCW has increased its expertise with two new strategic hires for its subsidiary companies Proof Communications, the digital, data and design specialist, and PSB, its dedicated research company. The move comes as its Power of Three strategy continues to reap dividends by delivering a full service, integrated communications offering to clients throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

Stefanie Spanos joins Proof Communication as Associate Director – Digital, bringing with her 12 years of experience from Canada, UK, and the UAE. Spanos was instrumental in launching the world’s largest blockchain festival  in Dubai and taking the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund to market. She has previously worked with Edelman and is an expert in digital analytics and data in the communications and PR industry.

Michael Hodgkinson, who joins as Senior Consultant with PSB Middle East, is experienced in international communications and strategy research with high-profile firms in the Middle East and Europe. A graduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford, Michael has led the GSK global delivery team at PSB as well as delivering numerous corporate and government projects in the Middle East.

Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President of BCW Middle East noted, “Public relations in MENA has always required a more nuanced approach than most other regions. We’re situated in one of the fastest advancing economies in the world, where digital communication and data are increasingly in demand. ASDA’A BCW extended its operation a few years ago to embrace a Power of Three strategy, including digital and data expertise through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Proof Communications and research through PSB. We are fortunate to have brought Stefanie and Michael aboard to strengthen our offering in these important sectors.”

Proof Communications began as the digital and branding division of ASDA’A BCW and grew into a fully-fledged digital and design agency that caters to clients across the Middle East. Proof’s most memorable campaigns in recent years include “We See Genius in Every Child” for GEMS Education as well as the multiple-award-winning Welcome to the Driver’s Seat Campaign by Ford Middle East, which marked the historic move to allow Saudi women to drive for the first time.

PSB specialises in custom research and analytics worldwide that uses a deep understanding of people, science and business to create human insights that inspire leaders to make more informed decisions with confidence. It has provided strategic guidance in sectors such as healthcare, technology, blue-chip corporate, financial, entertainment and public sectors in more than 100 countries. It is also a member of the BCW Group of companies, which is part of WPP, a creative transformation company.

Two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

Two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, according to findings from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey which were debated at a special event for academics, journalists, policymakers and diplomats held at the London think tank Chatham House last week.

The event, “2019 Arab Youth Survey: Pragmatism, Frustration and Optimism,” featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey, now in its 11th edition, including new data about young Arabs’ attitudes towards European nations and a panel discussion, chaired by Dr Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House.

With tensions running high in the Middle East after the strikes on Saudi Arabian oil installations on September 14, 2019, an attack which many observers are blaming on Iran the event proved to be an opportune moment to revisit Arab youth’s attitudes to their perceived allies and enemies. The Survey, conducted in January 2019, reveals that 67 per cent of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, with 32 per cent viewing it as an ally.

The data reveals significant differences in perception based on region: in the GCC states, 87 per cent view Iran as an enemy, with just 13 per cent saying ally; while in the Levant, youth are equally split, with 51 per cent saying enemy against 49 per cent saying ally. In North Africa, 64 per cent saw Iran as an enemy, with 35 per cent saying ally.

New findings from the Survey reveal that young Arabs are generally favourable towards European nations, with three European nations among the top 10 viewed as a strong ally. France is viewed as an ally by 75 per cent of those surveyed, closely followed by Germany with 73 per cent and the UK at 68 per cent. Arab youth attitudes towards the US are much more polarised, with more than half (59 per cent) considering the US to be an enemy of their respective countries.

Closer to home, 93 per cent of young Arabs seeing the UAE as their strongest ally, while 80 per cent seeing Saudi Arabia as their biggest ally – showing a high favourability towards the GCC.

Participating in the panel Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW said, “We’re moving from the power hubs of Baghdad and Cairo to those of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.”

In addition to John, the panel, which explored the potential of harnessing the findings of the Arab Youth Survey to steer policy- and decision- making and to shed light on young people’s attitudes towards  countries around the world,  comprised  Dr Simon Mabon, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Philosophy and Religion, University of Lancaster; and Sara Masry, an independent consultant. Dr Mabon provided his expert opinions on religion and regional conflicts, while Masry provided strategic insight into Arab societies and the role of social media among Arab youth.

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are proud to bring our research on the largest demographic of the Arab world to one of the foremost think-tanks in the world. To bring about any progressive change, a dialogue must happen. This dialogue here today at Chatham House heralds the larger discourse of an evolving global future that has, till now, often failed to hear the voice of Arab youth.”

The Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind into the region’s largest demographic: its youth. Every year, ASDA’A BCW generates evidence-based insights that provide governments, the private sector, media and civil society with critical information and analysis to inform decision-making and policy formation and build greater awareness of Arab youth.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.

ASDA’A BCW named ‘Middle East Consultancy of the Year’ at the EMEA SABRE 2019 Awards

ASDA’A BCW cemented its position as the Middle East’s leading Public Relations firm after being named ‘Middle East Consultancy of the Year’ at the prestigious EMEA SABRE Awards 2019 ceremony in London hosted by The Holmes Report.

The SABRE Awards are the largest PR industry prizes in the world and are deemed the ultimate benchmark in PR performance. This year’s SABRE Awards EMEA shortlist included 400 campaigns selected from over 600 entries.

In recognising ASDA’A BCW, The Holmes Report said: “ASDA’A BCW’s maturity is reflected by an integrated offer that is perhaps best known for its ability to handle regional projects for government agencies, NGOs and corporations, and for its high-end corporate capabilities. But the firm also has strength in brand marketing, public affairs and tech.”

Sunil John, Founder and CEO of ASDA’A BCW, said: “We are extremely grateful for this wonderful recognition from The Holmes Report which honours not just our breadth of expertise but the strength of our creative work that moves people and delivers measurable business results for our clients. Congratulations to everyone at ASDA’A BCW for their dedication and great work. We are grateful to our clients for their confidence in the Agency’s competencies.”

The Middle East PR Consultancy of the Year award is the result of a thorough research process by a number of The Holmes Report editors, who review the submissions and travel the region to undertake face-to-face meetings throughout the year.

Paul Holmes, Founder and Chair of The Holmes Group, said: “Now in its 15th year, the SABRE Awards EMEA are all about engagement, credibility and relationship building. The jury made up of over 60 peers choose to award those agencies, corporate teams and individuals they believe to excel in those credentials.”

Since its founding in 2000, ASDA’A BCW has been a pioneer of public relations in the Middle East. With five dedicated practices – Consumer & Healthcare, Enterprise & Technology, Financial, Public Affairs and Corporate – it has grown to be the agency of record for regional businesses, governments and multinationals alike.

Proof IC, the digital and design firm, and PSB Middle East, the research arm, are fully-owned subsidiaries of ASDA’A BCW, together bringing cut-through solutions that encompass public relations, research and digital. Today, the Agency employs nearly 200 professionals across nine wholly-owned and eight affiliates – in 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries.