The key finding from the Eighth Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey was unveiled by Sunil John, founder and CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller.
The survey revealed that when asked “do you feel people in this generation are more likely to start a business than in previous generations”, 54 percent agreed, with youth in the GCC most enthusiastic at 62 percent, compared to 54 percent of North African youth and 44 percent of youth in the Levant.
In a separate response, the survey found that 36 percent of young Arabs said they themselves intend to start their own business in the next five years – 37 percent of youth in the GCC, 39 percent in North Africa and 31 percent in the Levant.
For the 2016 survey, international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with Arab national men and women aged 18-24 in the six GCC countries, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Yemen. The interviews were conducted from 11 January to 22 February.
Top three sectors
Real estate, technology and retail were the top three sectors in which Arab youth would like to start a new business venture. Real estate is the preferred choice for a start-up in the Gulf states, where 24 percent of youth said they would opt to launch a property-related company, whereas technology was the top choice for would-be entrepreneurs in the Levant (15 percent) and North Africa (18 percent).
Retail is the second-most popular choice in the Levant and North Africa for 15 percent and 16 percent of respondents, respectively. However in the Gulf, only 9 percent would opt to start a retail operation.
Across the whole Middle East, 34 percent said they did not intend to launch their own business, while 30 percent did not know. Lack of financial resources to start a business was cited as the main reason overall, by 20 percent of young people.
However, in the GCC, only 8 percent believed they lacked the means to go it alone, while in North Africa, 37 percent saw this as the biggest hurdle.
Young Arabs believe governments can do more to support young entrepreneurs, with 39 percent saying that encouraging affordable lending should be made a priority; 25 percent calling for education and training to be improved and made more available and 19 percent asking for government regulations and red tape to be cut.
“These findings suggest governments in the Middle East have an excellent opportunity to really help kick-start an entrepreneurial culture in the region,” said John.
“With the Arab world needing to provide 80 to 100 million jobs by 2020, according to the World Bank, this represents a rich resource of largely untapped talent who can help drive the Arab world’s transformation to knowledge-based economies and provide the opportunities of the future,” he added.