Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat – Unemployment, ideological extremism and homosexuality are the issues that most concern the Saudi youth at present according research conducted by the National Center for Youth Studies aimed at determining priority research areas.
The National Center for Youth Studies contacted government and private bodies to find out about the key issues affecting Saudi youth. A large number of young men, women and experts were asked their opinions on these issues. The Center recently announced the results of the first stage of the project, which aims to specify priority research areas and will be completed within approximately six months.
Dr Saleh al Nassar, the Secretary-General of the National Center for Youth Studies affiliated to King Saud University in Riyadh, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the priority research areas will support the Center’s research plan. “We hope that when the list of priority research areas on issues that concern the youth is completed it will be a starting point for teaching staff and postgraduate research,” said al Nasser, stressing that the Center will support and facilitate the work of researchers who will focus on any of these issues in their work.
Al Nasser stated that there were twenty main issues, and the one that causes most concern amongst the youth is unemployment. The fear of unemployment that is gripping a large number of young men and women could be explained by recent reports that the unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia is 10 per cent of the entire population. The unemployment rate among young men is 6.8 per cent compared to 26.9 per cent among young women.
For his part, Dr. Nizar al Salih, the Assistant Secretary-General of the National Center for Youth Studies, said, “The following can be seen: young men see the lack of skills, failure to find a suitable job and homosexuality as the key issues, whilst girls are of the view that the lack of organizational skills, unemployment and the low levels of readership are keys issues, whilst experts consider unemployment, the shortage in labour market skills and the lack of organizational skills key issues.”
The Assistant Secretary-General stated that these results “signal different concerns, especially when all issues are raised such as tribal fanaticism, child sexual abuse, lack of creativity, lack of communication skills and drug abuse and so on.”
Asked about the next step, Dr. Nizar al Salih revealed that research will be conducted with a larger number of people from other parts of Saudi Arabia, and experts in different regions and of various fields. He added, “There will then be classification and analyses to produce results in line with specialized criteria to be presented to specialized government bodies that will deal with these results according to a pure scientific method.” He also revealed that the project will last six months and will involve 15-29 year olds both educated and non-educated.
The National Center for Youth Studies recently sponsored a seminar entitled ‘Priority Research Areas for Youth Issues.’ During the seminar, questionnaires that enquired on the key issues that the Center tackles were distributed to the audience. After the results were analysed, there was a clear difference of opinion between young men and women with regards to what they viewed as key issues. For young men, their main concern was unemployment, then ideological extremism whilst young women were mainly concerned about the lack of organization skills, then domestic violence, the failure to nurture youth’s potential, unemployment, keeping bad company and finally the low of level of readership.
The National Center for Youth Studies, which was established two years ago, aims at conducting specialised scientific studies and research on various youth-related issues, monitoring these issues, phenomena and social problems, and conducting research to work out where the failures are and how scientific and practical solutions can be reached. It is also considering setting up a national project for youth with the aim of further consolidating aspects of the attention required by the youth, handling their issues and setting up databases and completing reports on issues that concern the Saudi youth and updating and sharing the findings with other youth-related bodies.