The 2014 Arab Opinion Index

Increasing numbers of Arab citizens have participated in the Arab Opinion Index.

  • The 2014 Arab Opinion Index is the third annual survey of Arab public opinion carried out by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. In 2011, the survey was carried out in 12 Arab countries, and relied on a total survey sample of 16,192 respondents who participated through face-to-face interviews. For the 2012/2013 survey, a sample size of 20,372 respondents across 14 countries was used to gather the results. The countries covered in this survey were: Yemen, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania.
  • The total sample size for the 2014 Arab Opinion Index was thus 26,618 respondents: these include 21,152 respondents in the 14 countries reported above, and a further 5,466 Syrian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. The Syrian Refugees were located across refugee camps and other population centers in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, while the Syrian IDPs were located along the Syrian-Turkish frontier. Sampling for each sample was done using a randomized, stratified, multi-stage, self-weighted clustered approach, and provided a margin of error of between 2% and 3% for each population group.
  • Only 21% of the Arab public reported a household income which allows them to save, while 42% of respondents reported that their household income covers necessities, but does not allow them to save (these are families living in “hardship”). Another 32% of Arab households reported that they “live in need” (or are “needy”), with their income not covering all of their necessary expenditures.

Figure 1- 2 Respondents’ self-reported household incomes.

  • The results for the 2014 Arab Opinion Index show no (statistically significant) differences in self-reported income levels in comparison with previous years’ findings. Amongst needy families, 57% resort to borrowing, either from friends, relatives and acquaintances, or from banks and other financial institutions: 18% of needy families rely on friends, relatives and acquaintances; 10% rely on charitable organizations or government assistance. This suggests that informal support networks remain more robust compared to institutional, formal support.
  • Respondents’ evaluations of security in their home countries in the 2014 Arab Opinion Index was more negative compared to previous years: while 46% described the level of security in their home countries positively (either “good” or “very good”), 52% evaluated the level of security in their home countries negatively.
  • Respondents’ attitudes towards their home countries’ economic situations were similar, with 38% reporting this to be either “good” or “very good”, while 60% of respondents offered a negative evaluation of their home countries’ economic situations.

Figure 1- 3 Respondents’ evaluations of their home countries’ economic situations are shown here.

  • Similarly, respondents’ attitudes towards the political situations their home countries face have also worsened during the past year, with 59% offering a negative evaluation of the political situation of their home countries compared to 36% who described their home countries’ political situations positively (either “good” or “very good”).

Figure 1- 4 Respondents’ evaluations of their home countries’ political situations.

  • Responses to the 2014 Arab Opinion Index reflect a change in priorities among Arab populations, with 20% reporting concerns over “safety and security” as the primary challenge which their home countries face. This primacy of a non-economic factor is unprecedented; in the two previous surveys, unemployment had been the respondents’ most-cited challenge facing their home countries.
  • Fully 22% of Arab respondents report a desire to emigrate. While the desire to improve their own economic circumstances was the major motive, one-fifth of respondents indicated that an unstable security situation was their motivation for wanting to leave.

Figure 1- 5 Desire to emigrate from home countries amongst survey respondents.

Arab Citizens’ Views of State Institutions and Governmental Effectiveness

  • The Arab public’s attitudes and levels of confidence/trust towards state institutions is varied. While confidence in military and security apparatus remains high—and particularly so for the military/army—respondents displayed far less confidence in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The bodies in which respondents showed the least confidence included executive arms of the governments, legislatures and political parties of their home countries.

Figure 2- 1 Respondents’ varying levels of confidence in a number of important state institutions.

  •  In general, Arab respondents had low levels of confidence in the legislatures of their home countries on specific performance indicators, including: oversight of governmental performance, public expenditure, the preservation of the interest of all societal groups,  and the passing of legislation which would secure citizens’ liberties.

To download a PDF version of this In Brief report, please click here. This is an abridged version of the full report, which was made available online in Arabic on Friday, September 26. It can be found here.