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How did ideas and orientations change in Arab countries?

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The Arabic world is often depicted as religious, homogenous, and urban. But listening to the opinions and feelings of people from the region, we find a completely different picture.

The Independent Arab Barometer Research Network conducted the largest, widest, and deepest poll in the Middle East and North Africa for the BBC Arab.

The research, in which more than 25,000 residents from 10 countries and Palestinian Territories held in late 2018 and spring 2019, found a wide range of views on various issues of religion to women's rights and gay-lesbian migration.



The research has revealed that an increasing number of Arabs are turning their backs on religion and religiosity.

Since 2013, the share of those who call themselves "negligent" has risen from 8 to 13 percent. One-third of Tunisia and a quarter of Libyans describe themselves as such, while in Egypt the size of this group doubled, while its size was increased four times in Morocco.

The highest increase was observed among people under the age of 30, of whom 18% in this group were "non-eloquent".

The only exception to this rule is Yemen, where the share of "non-violent" fell from 12 percent in 2013 before the war in the country fell to 5 percent in 2019.

Who has authority?


The survey was compared with the equality of women, and in the area not known for accepting the principle of empowerment of women, research has shown a broad acceptance of the idea that women take the lead positions.

Most respondents in the region support the right of women to become prime minister or president of an Islamic country. Three-quarters of Lebanese respondents said that women should enjoy this right, and only Algeria, with less than half of the participants, said they support the right of women to become the head of state.

But it is different when it comes to the balance of power in everyday life, since most of the participants – including most women – believe that the husband should have the final say in family decisions.

Three quarters of Sudanes believe this, while Lebanon has recorded a slight increase in the proportion of women who have adopted this position since 2017. Morocco is the only country in the region where less than half of the population believes that the husband has the right to the final word at home.



The degree of acceptance of homosexuality varies in different Arab countries, but is low or very low throughout the region. Among Palestinians on the West Bank, only 5 percent said it was acceptable to be gay, and even in Lebanon, who is known to be more liberal than others, homosexuality only accepts 6 percent of the population.

As for killing, "shame", the survey did not show any surprise. In Algeria, for example, the first Arab country to accept homosexuality is the country most vulnerable to killing "shame".

Trump loses from Putin


The results of the research showed that in all the regions where the participants participated, US President Donald Trump and his policies in the Middle East took the last place among the three leaders, while half of the respondents in 7 out of 11 respondents expressed satisfaction with Turkey's President Erdogan's policy. Middle East. Only Lebanon, Libya and Egypt, whose participants preferred the policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, preferred Erdogan's policy.

An increasing number of people think about immigration


One in five respondents in all areas where they wanted to migrate, mainly for economic reasons.

In the six surveyed areas, immigration is more likely than in 2013. The largest increase was recorded in Jordan, and the number of those wishing to migrate there increased from the quarter of 2013 to almost half today.

In Sudan, this percentage has fallen, but still accounts for half of the population, while this percentage is above 40% in Jordan and Morocco.

Lebanon and Yemen have recorded the largest drop in the number of people who wanted to emigrate.

While the European Continent is still a desirable destination for those who want to emigrate, it loses part of its recent glamor. Of those who are willing to emigrate, the percentage of those who say they will choose Europe will be reduced from 51 percent in 2016 to 42 percent today. On the other hand, the share of those thinking about immigration in North America has increased from 23 percent to 27 percent, while the share of those who want to migrate to the Gulf countries has decreased slightly to 20 percent.

The percentage of those who want to migrate to the rest of the region (excluding the gulf) doubled to 11 percent.

View of Israel


The issue of security is still a problem in many areas of the Middle East and North Africa. Participants in six Israeli regions are at the top of the list of threats to stability in their areas and national security. Especially in areas bordering Israel, such as Lebanon and Palestinian Territories.

This rule also applies to the residents of neighboring countries, and most Iraqis and Yemen say Iran is the biggest threat.

The United States came to second place in threats to the region followed by Iran.

Skating towards dictatorship


The Arab Barometer in 2013 concluded that it is more likely that Algeria, Jordan and Iraq people would be closer to democracy than to dictatorship.

But they changed their mind until 2019. The Algerians became more pessimistic, and only a quarter of them considered their country a democratic country. Algeria, in the case of the next two countries, Libya and Sudan, experienced political discomfort or civil war in the months following the survey.

This graph is about the time context of this phenomenon, not about absolute numbers. Although the Moroccan view of their country has improved, it is useful to bear in mind that 50 percent now believe that Morocco is closer to dictatorship than to democracy.

On the other hand, most Egyptians believe that their country is moving towards democracy, which many may find strange if we now consider the form of government. However, the previous poll was conducted late at the time of former President Mohamed Morsi, when only 13 percent of Egyptians considered their country to be a democratic country. So this increase is basically too low.

My Big BBC Arabic

The BBC's research from Arab countries in 2018 and 2019 carried out the Arab Research Network Barometer to explore the nature of life in the Middle East and North Africa today.



The survey included 25,407 people face to face in 10 Arab countries, except for Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The research was conducted by scientists working for the Arab Barometer, the Princeton Research Network, which works in partnership with local universities and research institutes in the region.

The Arab Barometer has conducted such research in the Arab region since 2006.

Survey for the period 2018-2019. The largest has ever been carried out in the region compared to the number of participants and the number of countries involved, and the deepest is in terms of the comprehensiveness of the questions posed to the participants. In places that enjoy privacy.

Respondents were randomly selected on the basis of strict scientific methods and contexts to ensure their representation in their communities. Most of the questions put to the participants were multi-choice questions, but there were also open questions.

The research involved only Arab countries and therefore did not involve Iran or Israel (but included Occupied Palestinian Territories).

The survey covered most, but not all Arab countries, for example, several governments in the Gulf region refused to allow it to be conducted in a fair and complete manner.

The results for Kuwait were delayed, so the BBC could not include them in the final results.

The survey did not include the lack of Syria's access to the population and the difficulty of ensuring a just sample. In addition, the governments of some Arab states have asked for some questions to be removed.

Respondents took these exceptions into account when preparing final results, citing restrictions that had to be strictly observed.

Respondents asked questions indirectly and in a different way to prevent participants from responding directly to questions that could be considered illegal or taboo. For example, questions related to "crimes of shame" or homosexuality are formulated as a test list.

You can find more about the research on the Arabic Barometer website.

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