Young Arab’s Survey: Driving e-Commerce Boom, Unhappy With Quality of Education

The World Bank says nearly two-thirds of the people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are under the age of 30

BE2C2 Report – The youth of the Arab world are becoming far more comfortable with making purchases online, and growth of 25-30 per cent is expected per year for e-commerce in MENA, reaching $28 billion by 2022.

According to the Arab Youth Survey 2019, majority of the young Arabs are buying clothes (47 per cent), followed by food (37 per cent) and electronics (33 per cent). Preferences in payment has also shifted with 49 per cent preferring to pay by card compared to the 50 per cent who are still relying on cash on delivery.

Customers from the GCC constitute the largest majority of youth who prefer card payments with 65 per cent preferring to pay online, while just 35 per cent of youth in North Africa, where the vast majority remain unbanked, prefer to pay online.

The trend indicates young Arabs are embracing digital economy, trusting online sellers more, and getting familiar with the plastic, said one expert.

The latest survey reveals opinions of 3,300 young Arab nationals aged 18- 24.

In a separate report (from Bain and Company and Google), the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), e-commerce market was worth just $8.3 billion in 2017, representing less than 2 per cent of the retail market worldwide. In most developed countries, e-commerce accounts for 10-15 per cent of the retail market. But growth of 25-30 per cent is expected per year for e-commerce in MENA, reaching $28 billion by 2022, about 7 per cent of the total retail market.

Other key findings of the Arab Youth Survey 2019, whixh is based on 15 States and 50/50 sampling of males/females, and titled “WHAT DO 200 MILLION ARAB YOUTH HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THEIR FUTURE?” reveal that:

  1. Young Arabs say religion plays too big a role in the Middle East and religious institutions need to be reformed.
  2. Three in four young Arabs are unhappy with the quality of education in their country, and more than half would choose to pursue higher education abroad.
  3. Arab youth view Saudi Arabia and the US as the two nations increasing their influence most in the Arab world.
  4. Arab youth say it is time to put an end to regional conflicts.
  5. Among Arab youth, social media is more popular and seen as more trustworthy than traditional media.
  6. Mental health is an issue many young Arabs is familiar with, yet access to quality medical care is scarce.

The report comes as MENA countries — in particular, oil-producing ones — are reorienting approaches to job creation and youth employment. MENA countries often provide nationals with secure public sector careers and salaries as much as 70% higher than the private sector.

The International Monetary Fund said (in 2017) job growth in key MENA labor markets, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, will struggle to keep up with youth population growth.

(BE2C2   Report is a data journalism initiative of Irshad Salim Associates, a New Jersey, USA, based consulting firm in association with BE2C2 in Pakistan)