WASHINGTON An Arab American Institute (AAI) poll indicates that Arabs are strikingly more optimistic than before about the future of their region.
Furthermore, Arabs are now associating their identity more with their own country then with the pan-Arab views that once prevailed in the region. By a wide margin, Arab respondents prefer to be identified by their countries of origin over their religion and Arab ethnicity, a significant difference from 2002.
֓This poll, following up on our 2002 effort, provides a striking view of what Arabs are thinking about their lives, their identities, their work and their future” said AAI President Dr. James Zogby. “It reveals a region in great flux, but nevertheless optimistic about prospects for the years to come.”
In the AAI survey, conducted by Zogby International, 3,900 Arabs from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were polled between October 15-24, 2005. Respondents were asked to share their views about social and identity issues and their expectations for the future.
Among the findings:
Arabs in each of the six countries rank the expansion of employment opportunities and health care improvements to be a high priority. Respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia all ranked expanded employment opportunities as their top concern. Respondents in Lebanon and the UAE ranked it second.
71% of Saudis polled believe their situation will be better off four years from now, as compared to 40% in 2002.
Substantial majorities in all countries believe that it is acceptable for women to work outside the home to provide financial support for their families. In Saudi Arabia, 81% believe it is acceptable.
Strikingly, Saudis find combating extremisms and terrorism as their number 2 priority. It is also interesting to note that respondents in Jordan were less concerned with combating extremism and terrorism in 2005 than they were in 2004, ranking the issue fifth in 2004, falling to 10th place in 2005. (Note: Poll taken before November attacks in Amman)
In Lebanon, both male and female respondents rank ending corruption and nepotism as their number one concern.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is less important to Arabs across nationality, gender and age lines.
A full poll report will be available at the AAI event on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2005.