According to the 2017 Arab Youth Survey, young adults throughout the Middle East and North Africa consider Russia to be the Arab world’s closest non-Arab ally at the moment, rather than the United States. 21 percent of respondents held this opinion this year compared to 9 percent in 2016, while support for the United States went down from 25 percent last year to 17 percent this year.
49 percent of the polling young men and women aged 18 and 24 believed that the US was “somewhat of an enemy” or a “strong enemy” of their country. “A majority in 8 countries said that the US is an enemy — double the number of countries where a majority of respondents said so in 2016”. A lot of the swing can be attributed to President Donald Trump. Interestingly, he is even less liked that former President George W. Bush who was viewed favorably by 19 percent of the young Arabs compared to Mr. Trump’s 11-percent approval rate. 70 percent of all respondents think that Donald Trump is “anti-Muslim” and 49 percent believe that his travel ban makes it easier for terrorist groups to recruit and radicalize young Muslims.
This year, the top 5 allies cited in the survey are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and the United States, whereby the European Union, or Europe more generally, is conspicuously missing from the list. Among other findings, young Arabs feel that the biggest challenges holding the Middle East back are high unemployment and extremism. They also fear that their education system falls short of preparing students for jobs of the future. The survey collected opinions of 3,500 young adults from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen; Syria was excluded due to the war.