Middle East Money

Young Arabs now prefer Russia over the US as a 'partner'

Key Points
  • The ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab youth survey interviews young Arabs between 18 and 24.
  • For the first time, the United States has dropped out of the top 5 list of perceived allies.
  • A majority of young Arabs now consider the United States to be an adversary.
Celia Paterson | arabianEye | Getty Images

A majority of young people in the Middle East and North Africa have said they feel that Russia is now a closer partner to them than the United States.

The ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab youth survey was launched in 2008 and is the largest survey of its kind of the Middle East's largest demographic, a region notable for its predominantly young population.

In the 2018 poll, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia continue to be seen as the biggest allies to young Arabs. But the United States has fallen to number 11 in the ranking, falling out of the top five countries for the very first time.

Russia, which has made a big play in recent years to improve relations with some Middle Eastern countries, now finds itself the fourth most popular country among young Arabs.

The survey is conducted using 3,500 face-to-face interviews with young Arabs between 18 and 24. An equal amount of men and women have been interviewed from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, North African countries, the Levant, and Palestinian territories.

The choice for Russia over the U.S. for young Arabs is particularly pronounced in the "Levant + Other" category which included respondents from Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, and Yemen.

Across that region, 31 percent chose Russia as their top ally while only 15 percent opted for the United States.

The survey concluded that there has been a "dramatic shift" in the last two years in Arab youth's perceptions of the U.S. Authors went as far as to say that a solid majority of young Arabs now consider the United States to be an adversary, rather than ally.

Just under three-quarters of young Arabs view the election of Donald Trump, and his presidency, as a negative for the Middle East and North African region.

The rise of the so-called Islamic State, the global financial crisis, civil war in Syria and the rise of the Sunni-Shia divide are viewed even more negatively that the current White House administration.