UAE Youth are Upbeat About Future, Survey Finds
Anam Rizvi, The National
January 17, 2015
The Young Emiratis: 2014 Citizen Survey, commissioned by Al Bayt Mitwahid Association, quizzed about 2,000 young Emiratis about their views, preferences, and opinions on issues surrounding well-being, career, and quality of life.
National pride, respect for traditions, and ambition are placed highest on the list of values Emiratis want to see encouraged, the survey also found. Tala Al Ramahi, program director of Al Bayt Mitwahid Association and one of [the] report’s authors, said the survey was commissioned to understand the hopes and challenges of young people.
“The findings provide us with valuable insights and indicate how important our role is in promoting civic responsibility and volunteering among youth. We also hope that other organizations and entities are able to utilize this information to play a more productive part in addressing opportunities and challenges facing Emirati youth today,” she said. The respondents were divided into two age groups, 15 to 17 and 18 to 24. The survey concluded that young Emiratis are happy and optimistic about their future. The younger group rated their happiness on an average at 8.9 out of 10, while the 18 to 24 year olds rated their happiness at 8.5.
Most young people perceive themselves to be in good health, with 97 percent of both age groups rating their health as either “very good” or “good.”
Two out of three of those surveyed exercised regularly, but young women were less likely to exercise than young men. Amna Al Haddad, an Emirati weightlifter who is hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympics, said she was pleased that the results indicated many of her compatriots were taking up exercise.
“The fitness industry has been picking up in [the] UAE with more Emirati men and women participating at the recreational and even at the competitive level locally,” she said.
“However, sport as a profession is still in its infancy, and a strong base needs to be built to nurture future talent and champions.
“The Fatima Bint Mubarak Academy is doing a tremendous job [of] empowering women in sports and encouraging participation as an example, and that’s the first step.”
The survey also found that most youngsters aspire to work in the public sector, with more than four in five respondents saying they would prefer a government job.
Only one on 10 said that the private sector was their preference, and few people said they aspired to careers in science, technology, or engineering. This was true among the young men who took part in the survey.
Money, prestige, and the chance to improve one’s skills topped the list of factors that affect people’s decision to accept a job. Around half of the young women did not put “level of income” in their top three factors but considered “living near extended family” important.
Of the secondary school pupils who participated in the survey, a higher proportion of women than men said they planned to go on to higher education.
When it came to civic responsibility, young Emiratis preferred to give money than volunteer time.
A majority of youth, however, do not appear to have engaged in either activity on a monthly basis. Less than a quarter said they have volunteered time in the last month, which is slightly lower than volunteering rates found in other developed nations.
The results of the survey were released at an event attended by representatives from government entities, [the] private sector, and NGOs in the UAE, including representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community, the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation, the Al Jalila Foundation, and youth leaders.