Arab youth ‘optimistic’ despite regional turmoil

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LONDON: Young people from Arabic-speaking countries have an “optimistic” outlook on life, but little faith in politics, according to a study by Germany’s politically-focused Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

The study reveals a positive attitude toward the future, regardless of the political turmoil seen across much of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“Coping with Uncertainty: Youth in the MENA Region,” was co-edited by Professor Jörg Gertel from Leipzig University, who told to Germany’s DW.com: “I find the contrast between the region’s volatile economic, political and security situation and young people’s optimistic view of the future most surprising.

“There is a two-part answer for this. These teenagers’ parents entered the labor market during a time when there were many relatively secure jobs working for the state … Some still live at home, others have moved out.

“This an important distinction to make: Those who still live with their parents feel protected and deem their economic situation quite promising, whereas those who’ve moved out and started a family of their own say their situation is bad or even very bad.

“So once a person begins to take economic responsibility for his or her own life, and for that of others, the person’s assessment changes.”

Gertel went on to note that between half and two-thirds of those surveyed said emigration was not an option. Only seven percent said they wanted to move abroad. One-third said they were undecided.

The study’s co-author told DW.com that practically nobody surveyed said they want to get involved in politics, and party politics in particular.

“The youngsters distrust the political class. They want nothing to do with them. A deep rift divides them and the political world,” Gertel said.

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