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This Survey Of Arab Youth Shows A Huge Divide In How They See Their Country's Future

Young adults from 18-24 in 16 countries were surveyed in the most recent Arab Youth Survey, which found among other things, an intense dislike among them for Donald Trump.

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A new survey conducted among Arab youth finds them divided on whether their future is a bright one but agreeing on one thing — the US is no longer the top non-Arab ally out there.

Fadel Senna / AFP / Getty Images

This is according to the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which held face-to-face surveys with 3,500 18-24 year olds in 16 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. The survey is conducted annually by the Penn Schoen Berland polling firm, this year between Feb. 7 and March 7.

The survey found that Russia was considered the Arab world's best non-Arab friend.

Handout / Getty Images

This year, 21% of those asked said that Russia was their country's top ally — a change from only 9% in 2016. (The countries polled this year don't include Syria, where Russia is helping keep President Bashar al-Assad in power.)

On the flip side of that, their view of the United States slipped compared to last year's poll — a slide that comes along with an intense dislike towards President Donald Trump.

ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey

More than four-fifths of those surveyed — 83% — view Trump unfavorably. That makes him definitely less popular than former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush, who polled at 52% and 77% unfavorable respectively.

Meanwhile, 17% answered "the United States" when asked who their country's top non-Arab ally is, down from 25% last year. In fact, 49% of them said the US either "somewhat of an enemy" or a "strong enemy," compared to 46% who said that the US is an ally at all. (Last year those numbers were 63% and 32%.)

Beyond being broadly unpopular, Trump is viewed as anti-Muslim by a wide swath of those surveyed — 70% of respondents said as much.

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

Forty-nine percent of them also say that if his travel ban were put into place against Muslim majority countries, it would make it easier for terrorist groups to radicalize and recruit young Muslims.

All told, a majority in eight countries said that the US is an enemy — double the number of countries where a majority of respondents said so in 2016.

But the survey doesn't just talk about the US. It also polled Arab youth on things like "where do you want to live" or "which country should yours emulate"? (The United Arab Emirates won out in both cases.)

Arab youth are also speaking English more than before, the survey found, even though Arabic remains deeply important to them.

Mohammed Mahjoub / AFP / Getty Images

When asked whether “Arabic is central to [their national identity,” 80% of respondents agreed. But 54% said that they are using English more than Arabic on a day-to-day basis for the first time in the survey's eight-year history.

The survey this year found a huge split between the youth surveyed in the Levant and those in the Gulf States when it comes to optimism about their country.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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