The trend towards private business has become one of the most prominent new trends for Arab youth. The results of a recent survey conducted by ASDA’A BCW revealed that 42% of Arab young men and women want to start their own business within the next five years. This desire was most evident in the GCC countries with a percentage of 53%, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean countries with a percentage of 39% and North Africa with a percentage of 37%. This growing enthusiasm towards entrepreneurship reflects the tendency of young people to work in the private sector instead of government jobs.
Gulf youth were also more optimistic about starting their own businesses, as 58% of them said that starting a business in their countries is “very easy and somewhat easy”, compared to 79% of youth in eastern Mediterranean countries and 73% of youth in North Africa saying that it is very difficult and somewhat difficult in their countries.
The region has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world, which is over 26%, with around one in three youth (32%) between the ages of 15 and 24 not engaged in work, education or training, according to a World Bank report. The United Nations indicated that the region should provide 33.3 million job opportunities by 2030 to absorb the large number of young people wishing to enter the labor market, which is not an easy task that governments must accelerate.
According to the results of the study, tax exemptions and reduced fees imposed on start-up companies, enhancing training and education opportunities, and providing loans with government guarantees will encourage more Arab youth to start their own businesses.
With regard to the business sectors they prefer, 15% of young people participating in the survey said they want to start their own business in the technology sector, followed by e-commerce 13%, creative fields 11%, manufacturing 11%, real estate 10%, restaurants and food services 9%, and the retail, hospitality and education sectors 7% each.
Working in the private sector
One of the most prominent trends monitored by the survey over the years is the increasing tendency of Arab youth to work in the private sector rather than government jobs.
About half of the respondents to the 2019 survey said they would prefer to work in the government sector, compared to less than a third, 30% this year. A third of Arab youth, 33%, said they would prefer to start their own business, an increase of 13% from the results of the 2022 survey.
One in four, representing 25% of Arab youth, say they want to start their own business or work for their families, which is a slight decrease from 28% last year, and a 6% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, 11% said they would prefer to work for a non-profit organization.
Young people who want to start a business within 5 years
42% of all Arab youth
53% of the youth of the Gulf Cooperation Council
37% of the youth of North African countries
39% of the youth of the eastern Mediterranean countries
Young people who find it easy to find work in their countries:
13% of all Arab youth
25% of the youth of the Gulf Cooperation Council
12% of the youth of North African countries
5% of the youth of the eastern Mediterranean countries
Sectors in which young people want to start their businesses:
Technology = 15%
E-commerce = 13%
Creative fields = 11%
Manufacturing = 11%
real estate = 10%
Restaurants and food services = 9%
self-employment = 8%
retail = 7%
Hospitality and Tourism = 7%
Education = 7%
Transportation and travel = 1%